High-tech sewing machines are bringing a century-old Massachusetts textile mill back to life

Rivera’s family story is not unique. “So, see this gray seam? Schneider says the seams in her clothes are less abrasive and can stretch more. But, they also learn how to operate the high-tech machines, and with higher skills come higher wages. “The Luddites were a group of textile workers, and they felt that their jobs were threatened by automation. Now, few can do the work of many. And we’re focused on infusing that future factory with technologies in order to pay people more. Additional buildings would be added to the mill complex over the next 60 years. Last century, hundreds of thousands of textile jobs went abroad to lower-wage countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh and China, where labor is far cheaper. “We’re a rapidly growing startup and speed to market is critical for us,” says Wilson. But “by the time 1990 was here, there were really no sewing jobs,” says the mayor of Lawrence, Daniel Rivera. Credit:


Bringing back jobs to an old textile center
Folks at MIT were so impressed with 99Degrees’ business model that they awarded the startup the grand prize from the university’s Inclusive Innovation Challenge. She pulls a cloth scrap out of production and holds it up. But we do also need to recognize the legitimate concerns of people who have lost jobs because of technology. “And we’re blessed that we didn’t because we have really good buildings, really good bones   and they’re still standing,” says Rivera. “This mill, in particular, is significant because it was the largest cotton mill in the world in 1909,” she says. “The purpose of the Inclusive Innovation Challenge is to recognize and reward and encourage companies and individuals that are using technology to create more broadly shared prosperity. But those machines were in some cases eliminating jobs of textile workers. And it was an hour-and-15-minute drive,” says Marcus Wilson, a founder of NoBull. We’re focused on building a future factory, right? And some of them took it upon themselves to smash those machines to try to preserve jobs.”
Brynjolfsson says we shouldn’t try to smash the machines. Schneider does still employ   plenty of people sitting at traditional sewing machines, as well, and others working with scissors. And here, it’s   just a really quick process that moves very, very fast.”
So, for example, if red stretch pants in size medium are hot this week, Wilson can get more to the store shelves quickly. Credit:

Jason Margolis

Three years ago, Schneider had $7,500 to get started, and   “with that seed money, I launched with two sewing machines.”  
Today, she has 50 employees, dozens of customers and some really cool, 21st-century sewing machines. That came along with $125,000. So, it’s not sewn, there’s no needle and thread that connects the seam.”
The seam is then reinforced with a special seam tape, produced by the Massachusetts-based company, Bemis.  


Jason Margolis

          He knows firsthand: His   mom was a seamstress here in the 1980s, but then had to   leave Massachusetts to find work.  

This is one of the many old textile mills that line the Merrimack River in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Brenna Schneider is now renting a floor in a small wing of the Everett Mill,   built   in 1909,   to house her new clothing manufacturing company, 99Degrees. But Schneider doesn’t call herself a “social entrepreneur.”
“I think sometimes that term, it sounds a little soft. And that’s the impact I want to have.”
Schneider says if advanced automation allows her to create 250 higher-wage jobs as opposed to 1,000 lower-wage jobs, she votes for fewer jobs. Brynjolfsson says this question was also addressed 200 years ago in England. My personal motivation as an entrepreneur is good jobs and a scalable business. PRI.org

A century ago, Lawrence was a world center for textile manufacturing. But thanks to the latest machinery, her overall workforce is smaller and nimbler — and   labor costs are less of a factor for her business model. The Everett Stone Mill was built in the 1840s. Fancy Faith, an innovation sample maker at 99Degrees, finishes an ultrasonic-welded seam with adhesive tape. “Developing products or producing products in Asia, there’s a lot of time that’s spent with product just going back and forth for review. Technology is creating jobs   by eliminating others.  
In the case of 99Degrees, high-tech sewing machines are bringing back jobs to an old textile center. Staying local
The new Massachusetts sporting apparel company,   NoBull,   calculated the cost of doing business in a place like Bangladesh versus Lawrence when deciding where to manufacture its shorts, sports bras   and T-shirts; It chose to stay local, and went with 99Degrees to manufacture its products. In 1912, the Lawrence mill was also the site of the Bread and Roses Strike,   which   helped fuel the labor rights movement in the United States. The first thing   you notice when you arrive in Lawrence, Massachusetts, are the mills — picturesque five- and six-story red brick buildings that stretch into the distance along the Merrimack River.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. That seam is actually ultrasonic welded. But is there an irony in all of this? “Literally, we were up there [in Lawrence] yesterday working on development, taking a look at production. In other words, create wealth for the many, not just the few,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, which oversees the challenge. At the time it wasn’t robots, it was simple spinning machines. New England’s textile jobs may have vanished, but the city of Lawrence didn’t tear down its vacant mills. “And it’s not enough to simply say, ‘Oh well, that’s the way it goes.’ Instead, we have to take a proactive approach where we reinvent how the technology is used, so that instead of simply automating and eliminating jobs, we can take those technologies to create new higher-wage, higher-benefit jobs.”
Right now, most of Brenna Schneider’s employees make about $12 an hour sewing clothes. And the quiet, high-tech machines reduce the number of workers she needs.

Killing of Russia’s ambassador in Turkey may bring the two nations closer

“Mr. “This is the first step that we have with Russia, which we believe is a very important step, and this will create the conditions to create a lasting ceasefire in Syria.”
The two countries have had their share of differences lately. “At the time Mr. One day after Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was gunned down by an off-duty Turkish cop, you might expect a strain in diplomatic relations. great efforts in Syria and it’s absolutely unacceptable to support this group and its branches,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters. “And,” says Maynes, “the signals seem to be playing out that the Turks and the Russians want to keep working together.” “It even got to the point where you had a Turkish jet shoot down a Russian plane, killing the pilot,” Maynes recalls. There was much concern in Turkey when Russia entered the Syrian conflict in the fall of 2015. At the press conference the two foreign ministers seemed to be on the same page with regard to at least some opponents of the Assad regime. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu lay flowers in memory of murdered Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov before their talks in Moscow


Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

Just 24 hours after the violent death of the Russian ambassador in Ankara, the Turkish and Russian Foreign Ministers appeared together in a public ceremony in Moscow to lay flowers at a makeshift memorial to the slain diplomat. Erdogan finally made amends with Moscow when he apologized for the downing of the pilot [in June]. We had a coup in Turkey in July, and the Russians, then seeing a chance to create some space between Turkey and its Western allies in NATO, came to Mr. “Al Nusra Front is definitely a terrorist group blacklisted in many countries. “Our countries commit to fight together against these organizations,” echoed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Putin said it was ‘a stab in the back,’ and they imposed sanctions on the Turks.”
“But it’s amazing how things turn around,” says Maynes. Erdogan’s support. “But, essentially, the focus has been on how can we work together to strengthen our efforts against terrorism.”
The foreign ministers of Turkey and Russia, along with their Iranian counterpart, sketched out their plans for a new partnership at a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday. Their plans to join forces to confront security threats begins, they said, in Syria, Turkey’s troubled neighbor. “The Turks, particularly Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have come out against Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian leader, while the Syrian leader is an ally of Moscow,” says Maynes. And now they seem to have this loose agreement on Syria, where essentially they don’t interfere with each other’s war aims on the ground.”
And so the brutal assassination does not seem to be driving a wedge between Turkey and Russia. But, instead, Russia and Turkey seemed to be amping up their friendship.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Russia makes … PRI.org

“The Russians might be asking how it is that a Turkish police officer ended up at an art exhibition, killing Ambassador Andrei Karlov,” observed Moscow-based journalist Charles Maynes.

Turkey’s fraught history with headscarves

I believe [Turkey will] become much more conservative. Nurbanu Dursun, a graduate student at the premier Bogazici University, says women in headscarves are accepted in public universities as students but not necessarily in academic positions. She remembers one recent incident on a crowded metro, when there were no seats. “As someone who values my freedoms, I don’t think the government protects my rights, and I don’t think it will protect the rights of a child that I would raise. Those who cover are considered supporters of the ruling Justice and Development party, or AKP, and women who don’t cover are seen as symbols of Turkey’s secular tradition. In 2011, Turkey’s Islamist government lifted the ban. “I wanted to go to that university because my cousin was there, but they wouldn’t admit me,” she says. But Betül says women in headscarves still faced discrimination. They both say meeting each other has challenged their preconceptions. But the headscarf has been a contested symbol of liberation or oppression throughout modern Turkish history. The secular-Islamist polarization in Turkey plays out on women’s bodies in public spaces. Betül says she feels more at home in Turkey than Melis, but doesn’t want to see women like Melis marginalized. In a café at Istanbul Arel University, a group of friends — secular and religious, Kurdish and Turkish — gather to talk about their country’s changing identity. But in many conservative neighborhoods, women who don’t cover face harassment. Some of my opinions, particularly about women with headscarves, have changed.”
As for Betül, she says one reason she chose this private university was to be among students who think differently from her. Melis, who considers herself secular, also studies psychology. In September, during the Eid holiday, a man on a bus attacked a nurse, cutting her face. Journalist Ozge Sebzeci contributed to this report. “I was feeling sick and looking pale. Religious women sometimes resisted, risking their jobs and degrees. In high school she says she had to take off her headscarf when she participated in the debate team. “We should have empathy for one another.”
In a recent survey of 16,000 people across Turkey conducted by the private consulting firm Ipsos KMG, 60 percent of women said they wear a headscarf, and nearly half of the men said their wife should wear a headscarf. Both women asked that we not use their last names to protect their privacy in Turkey’s current political climate. “It used to be that women in headscarves were mistreated, but now it’s the opposite,” Betül says. She thinks it’s because she wears a headscarf. Human rights activists blame the AKP and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rhetoric of creating a “good woman, bad woman narrative” in Turkish life. That’s the best way to foster tolerance, she says, and she’ll fight for respect for every woman, not just those wearing headscarves like her. They wore hats and wigs to go to school and work. So Betül, who studies psychology, chose Arel, a private liberal university, where she says no one monitored her clothing. Betül, 21, began wearing a Muslim headscarf in 2011, just after it became legal in public universities and government institutions. He has criticized secular, educated, single women without kids as “half women.”
Emma Sinclair Webb, director of Human Rights Watch in Turkey, says the government can have a family values agenda, but it shouldn’t discriminate against those who don’t fit that mold. It’s a real problem on public transportation, she says. “I was a person with a lot of prejudice,” says Melis. That’s why I don’t want to stay here,” Melis says. Women say if they don’t raise their voices, the government pays little attention. Dursun, who covers her head, says Turkey’s intelligentsia is still dominated by secular women. He shouted “women who wear shorts must die.”
A protest broke out immediately after the attack was publicized. And in a few liberal neighborhoods of Istanbul, women in headscarves continue to be ridiculed as backward. Turkey’s secular government outlawed the headscarf for civil servants and public universities in 1980, citing the need for the separation of state and religion. Betül and Melis, the two friends at Arel, say their government needs to be more pluralistic. She doesn’t feel like she fits in any more. “He didn’t give me his seat but as soon as a covered girl around my age walked in, he offered his seat to her. “These have been very insulting and polarizing discourses coming from above about women’s roles and women’s identity in this society,” says Sinclair-Webb. And it’s not just dirty looks and name-calling. “I overcame this with Betül. She says she’s angry and frustrated by the negative attitudes about secular women she now encounters in Turkey. And in the past five years, secular Turkish women say they find themselves judged by an increasingly conservative society. One topic of discussion among two of the young women, Betül and Melis, is the headscarf. Erdogan has publicly encouraged women to be religious, marry, have at least three children and work only part-time. And when she applied to the public Istanbul University, she was rejected. He looked straight at me, but said to her: ‘You deserve this seat.’ I felt worthless.”
Melis says she’s thinking of leaving Turkey after she’s done with her studies, maybe to travel to Europe. The reality is more complicated than that. A man kept staring at me,” Melis says.

In the DR Congo, protests turn deadly; president refuses to leave office

Badibanga urged people to stay “calm” and security forces “to show discipline and restraint” as violence erupted after his controversial appointment. Some two decades ago, Congo collapsed into the deadliest conflict in modern African history. With no election planned and no sign of him stepping down, veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi issued a plea to the country’s 70 million people to “peacefully resist” and “reject” the Kabila regime. As the clock counted down on Tuesday’s end-of-mandate deadline, crowds gathered before midnight Monday to blow whistles and beat on improvised drums, calling on Kabila to quit. The president has been in office since his father Laurent Kabila’s assassination in 2001. Tension has been mounting for months in DR Congo ahead of the Dec. He was elected in 2006, and again in 2011. ‘Teargas and gunfire’  
“Fortunately, we are not back to the slaughter of September,” said national police spokesman Pierre-Rombaut Mwanamputu, referring to bloodshed in September when at least 53 anti-Kabila protesters died in two days, according to the UN. But the main opposition bloc rejects the plan. 20 deadline for Kabila’s second and final term in office to end. Joseph Kabila, to the international community to no longer deal with Joseph Kabila in the name of the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
The 84-year-old urged people “to peacefully resist the coup d’etat.”
The message was not available in DR Congo where authorities have since Sunday imposed strict controls on the flow of pictures and video on social media networks. DR Congo has never witnessed a democratic transfer of power following polls since independence from Belgium in 1960. It was impossible to immediately verify that claim. Local authorities said “police were forced to fire into the air to disperse civilians” because some protesters were armed. Kabila, 45, who has ruled since 2001, is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term but under a controversial recent constitutional court order, he may stay on until a successor is chosen. The talks are due to resume on Wednesday. Tshisekedi said he hoped to continue talks launched by the Catholic Church last week to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. In central Kananga, the sound of heavy weapons sent crowds of panicked residents pouring into the streets, but there were no reports of clashes in northeastern Kisangani or in Bukavu in the country’s east. Its two wars in the late 1990s and early 2000s dragged in at least six African armies and left more than 3 million dead. The opposition wants elections next year — along with a pledge that Kabila will not stand. “There was teargas and gunfire,” said Andre, a resident of Kinshasa’s Matete neighborhood, adding that security forces “threatened the population.”
And in what Kabila’s opponents dubbed “a provocation,” state TV overnight announced a new government. At least 11 people died as gunfire erupted during protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo against longtime President Joseph Kabila, who is refusing to leave office as his mandate ends. ‘Caving in to pressure’  
In a YouTube video released during the night, opposition leader Tshisekedi launched “a solemn appeal to the Congolese people to no longer recognize the authority of Mr. An AFP correspondent said the streets of Lubumbashi’s Matuba neighborhood were strewn with rocks and burnt tires early Tuesday amid a heavy police presence. Plumes of smoke from burning barricades hung over Kinshasa after overnight protests, and activity ground to a halt as troop carriers patrolled the largely empty streets of the megacity of 10 million. Shots rang out in the capital Kinshasa, where at least nine people were killed, and there was sustained gunfire in the country’s second-largest city, Lubumbashi, where two died — including a policeman who was lynched by an angry crowd. Headed by Samy Badibanga, it is part of an October deal between the ruling party and tiny fringe opposition groups that enables Kabila to remain in office, pending elections in April 2018. The UN’s large DR Congo mission, MONUSCO, said it was probing reliable reports of dozens of deaths and voiced alarm over the arrests of 113 opposition leaders and civil society activists in just four days.

Plastic trash is a big problem. How much do you throw away? (QUIZ)

In the modern world, plastic products are so common that hardly anyone keeps track of how much they use and discard. But no matter how well a country manages its recycling, a significant amount of plastic ends up in the environment — especially in waterways. The consequences of this could be harsher to humanity than climate change, as we detail in our in-depth report, “Climate change, meet your apocalyptic twin: oceans poisoned by plastic.”
So, how much plastic do you throw away or recycle? It’s estimated that by 2050, the seas will contain more plastic than fish. Calculate your average with this tool, then compare your number with the rest of the world.

Indonesia’s forests are key for saving orangutans — and slowing climate change

Forests, and the land they have traditionally taken up, are important to local economies. Deforestation a leading contributor to climate change in Indonesia
Orangutans are not the only creatures threatened by the massive conversion of land away from forests in Indonesia. Most of that deforested land, an area just slightly smaller than Taiwan, has been converted into oil palm plantations in the Indonesian portion of Borneo. Many farm small plots of land, illegally, inside the national park.  
He says he can’t farm or fish, so it’s the best job available to him in the region. Preserving tropical rainforests has long been a priority for conservationists seeking to protect biodiversity, boost water quality and prevent erosion. “National parks like Gunung Palung are for the most part intact, but they are increasingly becoming islands in seas of oil palm or other sorts of plantation forest areas,” says Erica Pohnan, conservation program manager at Alam Sehat Lestari, a nonprofit that runs a health clinic and conservation programs near the park. The World Wildlife Fund estimates palm oil is in half of all packaged goods on grocery store shelves. And unlike China, the US and other nations ahead of it on that list, most of its pollution comes not from transportation or industrial sources, but from deforestation and land-use changes.   
“And that makes wildlife conservation very difficult because there’s no connectivity between these islands.”


Global Forest Watch

Over the past 10 years, roughly half of the deforestation on Borneo, an island Indonesia shares with Malaysia and Brunei, has been done to clear the way for industrial plantations. In turn, those developed countries will get to subtract that carbon from the amount they’ve promised to reduce their own emissions by under the climate change agreement. Humans are   too. “Communities that live near forests depend on these forests for a number of natural resources that they use every day,” Chatellier says. When Edward Tang was a boy, he used to hunt durian fruit in the jungle near his house in western Borneo. But he almost never sees orangutans anymore. “The impact of forest destruction in Indonesia has been immense,” Tang says. He says he still catches glimpses of orangutans when he hikes deep into the park on overnight camping trips with kids. On expeditions into the forest, he’d often see orangutans swinging from branch to branch above his head. Toni Hidayat lives in western Borneo, across the street from the site where conservation educator Edward Tang leads educational hikes for the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program. Hidayat works at a palm oil plantation about an hour-and-a-half away by motorbike. Indonesia was the sixth-largest greenhouse gas emitting country in the world as of 2012, the most recent year for which full data is available. But over the past two decades, the importance of keeping forests intact as a way to prevent climate change has slowly been rising in prominence on the international stage. Note: This is the first story in a series on PRI.org and The World examining social entrepreneurs using innovative methods to protect Indonesian forests. Tang is 40 now, and as a conservation educator, he still spends a lot of time in the forest. Orangutans, which live in the wild only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, have been some of the most visible victims of that deforestation. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

Chatellier works in Jakarta for a company called Forest Carbon   that is, like a small but growing number of firms in developing countries, launching a for-profit forest conservation program to tap into that money, and the existing $278 million market for carbon credits bought voluntarily by companies and individuals seeking to offset their own pollution.  
The vegetable oil those palms produce is used in a huge variety of products sold in the US, from ice cream to lipstick. Protecting forests without cutting people off from them
But protecting forests is a complicated challenge. As billions of dollars are poised to flow from developed to developing countries to protect their forests, countries like Indonesia are scrambling to figure out how to resolve that kind of conflict: how to balance the lives and livelihoods of local people with the need to protect the global climate and fragile species, like Borneo’s endangered orangutans. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates the number of orangutans living in Borneo dropped by 60 percent between 1950 and 2010 alone. You can’t just build a fence to keep people out of what is sometimes literally in their own backyards. When conservation groups move in to claim a piece of land to preserve it, “that can create conflict,” Chatellier says. Edward Tang, conservation education coordinator at the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project in West Kalimantan. where forest conservation was really recognized as a really important climate mitigation activity,” says environmental scientist Jeffrey Chatellier. When trees are cut down or burned, they release stored carbon that rises into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming.  
“This is a good fit for me,” Hidayat says. Under the United Nations climate change agreement struck in Paris last year, starting in 2020, developed countries will be able to pay developing countries, like Indonesia, for the carbon they’ve kept sequestered by protecting their forests. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

The sprawling archipelago nation of Indonesia has lost about a quarter of its forests in the past 25 years. The palm oil industry employs roughly 4 million people in Indonesia and Malaysia alone. “Going back to 2007, you had the United Nations climate change negotiations in Bali … The best-protected populations of the endangered great apes live in national parks like the roughly 400-square-mile Gunung Palung, on the western coast of Borneo, where Tang leads hikes for schoolchildren. A small patch of forest still burns after being cleared for farming in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Hidayat’s neighbors in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan go to the forest for firewood and timber. In 2010, Indonesia’s National Council on Climate Change estimated that about 85 percent of the country’s emissions stem from land-use activities, primarily in the form of deforestation and peat fires.

Jellyfish are ancient, beautiful and mysterious. But they’re becoming a global headache.

You’d be pretty happy. So, as long as we keep giving them fewer fish, warmer water, more nutrients in coastal ecosystems, more coastal construction, etc., they’re going to continue to bloom, because that’s what they do.”
This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood. A jellyfish bloom   (or group) can encompass millions of the creatures spread over many dozens of miles. Gershwin is drawn to   how unique they are, and the fact that they’re still so mysterious. Overfishing, plastic pollution,   warming temperatures and other impacts of human activities are changing the oceans — resulting in   decreasing populations of everything from tuna to whales to dolphins. “A lot of aspects of their biology and ecology are just fascinating, and yet they’re so poorly studied and so poorly known that it’s like every time you look at them, you can discover amazing new stuff, and I really like that aspect as a scientist — to be able to make so many discoveries of new species, new behaviors, new aspects of biology and ecology.”
Jellyfish function in ways that are hard for humans to relate to. reproduce more and live longer to do more of it. But humans are also causing one class of sea life to thrive: jellyfish. “You think, ‘Hang on, jellyfish is the top predator? They’re blooming because the things that we are doing as humans are giving them the perfect conditions to bloom. “When jellyfish bloom into ‘super-abundances,’ power plants suck in all these jellies and the engines that are cooled by the water shut down. “They’re not blooming because they’re evil. It could be potentially catastrophic if the plant weren’t shut down proactively.”
So, now that humans have managed to create for ourselves a serious problem with these creatures, what can we do about it? Pretty much they’re just a bag of goo with a stomach and a really primitive nerve net, and gonads. Not every species of jellyfish is rampant and out of control, Gershwin notes, but some are causing untold problems for all sorts of marine industries. “I think if we really want to change this dynamic, we have to actually change the reasons the jellyfish are blooming,” Gershwin says. “We are giving them the biggest break of their entire history.”
Gershwin has a rare passion for this stinging sea creature. What about fish and sharks and whales?’ It’s not that they’re eating sharks, but they eat the food that the food of the food of sharks would eat, and so jellyfish are able to cripple an ecosystem at the ankles.”
Power plants are threatened if they draw cooling water from the ocean or an estuary, or anyplace where jellyfish could conceivably be, Gershwin explains. That’s it.”

Lagoon jellyfish   feed on zooplankton but also grow symbiotic algae in their tissues as an added food source, giving them a greenish-brown color. PRI.org

“What we are doing as a normal part of being human — our waste and our coastal construction and our fishing and our carbon dioxide, all of these things — we are creating a world for jellyfish that they’re loving,” says Australian–based biologist Lisa-ann Gershwin. Listen to the full interview. “They have no brain, no blood, no heart, no bones. Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. For better or for worse, she says, humans have created the ideal circumstances for jellyfish to flourish. For example, they’re hard on tourism (since they sting people), and they pose challenges for salmon farms, fishing vessels and some ecosystems — where, as the top predator, they’re taking over. Credit:

(Photo: New England Aquarium)

What’s even more fascinating, Gershwin adds, is that, while other creatures have evolved into a staggering array of life, jellyfish haven’t had to: They’re the same as they’ve always been. And in this case, “somebody else warms up the water that you’re living in so you grow faster, eat more … They bloom as a natural part of their lifecycle, and they respond to environmental conditions.  
“That just bends your mind backwards,” Gershwin says. “If you’re an animal and every day is a struggle to find food, a struggle not to be someone else’s food, a struggle to grow fast enough to reproduce before you become food or die of some other way, imagine a world where somebody else does you the favor of taking out your predators and competitors,” Gershwin says. Jellyfish don’t have a brain, so I think they’re not actually happy, but, man, they’re loving it.”
Jellyfish have inhabited Earth’s waters for about half a billion years. But now, in many places, they have become too much of a good thing. She has personally identified 200 new species and is one of the foremost experts on these ancient, intriguing   beings.

How an Australian man got away with taking $1.5M of his bank’s money


Courtesy of   Luke Moore

“They never sent me a letter saying, you know, your account is this much overdrawn and it’s time to start paying some of the money back,” he said. Moore served six months in jail before a judge set him free, saying what he’d done was dishonest   but —   critically — not illegal. New clothes. Luke Moore thought has had life figured out. Traveling. Moore pretty quickly realized he could live an entirely different lifestyle on the bank’s money. “The court ruled that there was absolutely no evidence that a crime had even been committed. I pulled the curtains across and they were like, ‘It’s the police. And while he always expected the bank to come calling for its money, he didn’t expect the whole thing to come crashing down the way it did. “I sort of just took a gamble really one day, I think. An error at the Australian 22-year-old’s bank was allowing him to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars without ever being asked to make any payment. Luke Moore says he is studying to become a criminal lawyer. That’s when it all sort of started — me being able to access this enormous line of credit,” Moore said. He went on two holidays to Thailand, both for about two months each. “[Instead], I was in the bedroom and there’s a knock at the window. Parties. I was going up there just for a weekend to see one of my friends and I ended up staying there for about the next 12 months.”
All told, Moore took about $1.5 million (2 million Australian dollars) before the bank caught on to what was going on. He was released, his conviction vacated. For the prosecution to prove that I had obtained money by deception they had to prove that I wasn’t authorized to do what I did on the account. By looking at the terms of conditions of the account that I had in place with the bank, it clearly said that I was authorized to direct debit and overdraw your account,” Moore said. At the same time, his paychecks were going into another account. If you don’t open the front door we’re going to kick it in.'”
That was December 2012 — and the start of a months-long trip through the Australian legal system, where Moore faced charges of fraud relating to taking money by deception. Moore says he’s now studying to be a criminal lawyer. New cars. Moore ended up with four cars — including an   Aston Martin DB7 (original retail price: $140,000), the same car that was in James Bond films — and a fishing boat. I rang up a home loan company and asked them if they could, instead of direct debiting my usual $500 a fortnight [every two weeks], if they could debit $5,000. And yet, the bank never stopped him from withdrawing, even though his account plunged deeper and deeper into negative territory. “Oh the lifestyle change was incredible,” Moore said. Drugs. “I decided to go up for a holiday to Surfers Paradise, the Gold Coast. This story was first published by the CBC’s As It Happens. Moore was convicted and   sent to prison — but a funny thing happened during his appeal.

What is often called ‘illegal immigration’ isn’t really illegal

It was the lowest number in any of the past eight years. Away from the borders, the federal government rarely enforces immigration law. “Throughout the twentieth century the United States has arranged to import Mexican workers while pretending not to do so.”
Legal scholar Eric Posner refers to the situation as an “illegal immigration system.” He says it’s wrong to think that unauthorized immigrants live here illegally. “That was when everything changed for me, thanks to President Ronald Reagan, who made the Simpson-Rodino law, and that’s when I got my papers,” he said in Spanish. The law treats many immigration violations as civil offenses, not as crimes. And the government focuses most of its attention on unauthorized immigrants who have committed crimes. But most of those deportations happened right near the border. Why? Immigration raids scared off workers and disrupted the harvest. Responses came back quickly. But for years, immigration has been so politically explosive that Congress hasn’t increased the number of legal visas. I’m a news reporter and I’ve been writing about Mexican immigration for many years. And on the relatively rare occasions that immigration law is enforced in the interior of the country, it can be severe. Is he a “bad” immigrant who broke the law? Consider the story of Rosalio Navarro, a friendly, talkative man who was 59 when I met him several years ago. You may have heard immigration advocates refer to Obama as the “deporter-in-chief” for sending huge numbers of immigrants out of the country. But it misses an important point. More: These asylum-seekers are being forced to raise their kids in immigration ‘jails’
And that brings us   back to Navarro. Republican presidential candidate Sen. Some communities would cheer the change. The onion growers complained to members of Congress, who not only got the enforcement stopped, they arranged a temporary amnesty until the workers could bring in the onions. At one point the protesters chanted, “Let’s be loud! Both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations have quietly permitted the continued presence of people — particularly Mexican immigrants — who managed to enter illegally or overstay visas. By contrast, border enforcement generates little backlash. Bill Clinton’s administration dramatically reduced immigration raids in US workplaces. Chant: Let’s be loud, let’s be clear, immigrants are welcome here. “If there is one constant in US border policy, it is hypocrisy,” Princeton University scholar Douglas Massey and colleagues wrote in their 2002 book about Mexican immigration, Beyond Smoke and Mirrors. Immigration enforcement in the interior of the country often angers people, particularly the immigrants’ employers. If you’ve ever had a shot of tequila, you can thank people like him, because he grew up in the actual town of Tequila in Mexico’s Jalisco state. If our government truly treated the presence of unauthorized immigrants as illegal, it’s hard to imagine how so many millions of these immigrants could stay for so many years. Bush proposed an amnesty, but couldn’t get it through Congress. If Trump follows through with his campaign promise of large-scale deportations in the US interior, it would mean casting out families that have lived here for years and disrupting the lives of their citizen children. Others would resist. And yet:
“Whether characterized as a matter of civil or criminal law, and whether carried out by federal, state, or local officials, every type of immigration law enforcement shares a common central feature: imprisonment,” legal scholar César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández wrote in   a paper published in the California Law Review last year. Another person wrote: “The irony? In the 1980s, he had a stroke of luck. In an interview, he says border enforcement doesn’t just affect freshly arrived immigrants — it can also impact long-term immigrants who live in the border zone as well as those who are trying to return to families in the US interior. Let’s be clear! He wanted better opportunities, so he crossed the border illegally to work in the US. That’s key to understanding how we got here — and a key to understanding what might happen in a Trump administration. At least, not very often. Ted Cruz made similar remarks on the campaign trail: “I think most Americans, when we look at immigration, follow a very basic principle: Legal good, illegal bad,” he said while on a tour of the southern border. Generally, they have no chance at citizenship, no right to vote, limited access to social programs, and no right to travel back to their home countries and return — even when a family member is dying. Today he splits his time between Mexico and Memphis, where members of his family live. Enforcement of immigration laws in non-border areas has dropped significantly during his tenure, according to a 2014 analysis by the Los Angeles Times, and most of those deportations followed criminal convictions. And President Barack Obama signed an executive order that temporarily provided work permits to hundreds of thousands of young people brought to the country as children. “Little effort is made to stop them from working or to expel them,” he wrote in a 2013 essay. No one ever suggested immigrants weren’t welcome. The economy’s demand for low-cost labor leads to a hands-off approach. It would represent a big shock to the economic and social order — perhaps a much bigger shock than many people imagine. And unauthorized immigrants are staying put, rather than crossing and re-crossing the border. pic.twitter.com/Q5yblHqiCP
— Daniel Connolly (@DanielConnolly) November 12, 2016
“Legal immigrants are always welcome here,” one person wrote. Or a “good” immigrant because he got the amnesty that opened the door to citizenship? Last month, I covered an anti-Trump rally in Memphis, Tennessee, where I live. Decades of hands-off federal policy have allowed millions of unauthorized immigrants to put down roots. It’s the wrong question to ask. Reagan wasn’t the only president to protect unauthorized immigrants. For one, businesses want a reliable, low-cost   work force. For years, he worked in the grinding, low-paid job of harvesting and hauling the agave plants used to make the drink. Immigrants are welcome here!”
I tweeted the chant. The political dynamic has resulted in a combination of heavy border enforcement, light interior enforcement and occasional legalizations, like the one Navarro received. But unauthorized immigrants have limited rights. What we may think of as “illegal immigration” isn’t actually illegal. Within the illegal immigration system, there’s often no bright line difference between immigrants who came legally and those who broke immigration law.   A classic case played out in the Vidalia onion fields of Georgia in 1998. Just follow the law.”
I often hear this type of comment. Protest now at Cooper Young intersection. By 2014, an estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the US and they had stayed in this country for a median of nearly 14 years, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The most recent statistics show deportations from the interior dropped to about 69,000 for the 2015 fiscal year (PDF). The 1986 amnesty brought him legal status and eventually, citizenship. In my experience, unauthorized immigrants often live openly, buying houses, running small businesses, raising US citizen children and sometimes paying federal income taxes under their own names; the Internal Revenue Service issues individual Tax Identification Numbers that help them do it. George W. Posner compared the situation to police officers choosing not to enforce traffic laws:
“In other words, the odds of being punished for participating in the illegal immigration economy are something like the odds of being given a ticket for driving 56 mph in a 55 mph zone.”
In some cases, unauthorized immigrants can even win legal status, he wrote. On the surface, that seems to makes sense. The solution: tolerate illegal immigration.

Reports of privatizing oil-rich Native lands are overblown, but big changes are still in store under Trump

When Oklahoma legislator Markwayne Mullin recently told Reuters, “We should take tribal land away from public treatment,” the backlash was instant. The mostly conservative, Republican coalition hopes to advise the incoming administration on Indian country issues, like economic development, energy and the environment. Not so fast
Agencies like the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of the Interior are charged with helping tribes and preventing them from being exploited — by the states, corporations and privatize citizens — though they haven’t always done a stellar job. “There’s a terrible history of non-Indians near reservations desperately wanting whatever resources tribes have,” explained Helton. Here are just two examples: Gold in the Black Hills in the 1840s on land once controlled by the Dakota Sioux and the discovery of gold around 1800 on land in   North Carolina and Georgia that was controlled by the Cherokee. Ever since the   Supreme Court decided Johnson v. He just wants to make it easier for tribes to do business without the approval of the federal government — to “cut through the red tape of bureaucracy.”
“It’s tribal land given to sovereign nations, but it’s treated like public land. first Mark Mullin, tribes should make their own decisions on what happens to their land, not you, not the federal government and certainly not you taking their land and handing it over to some private company who you have sold yourself too,” wrote one commenter on Facebook. He and other advisers to President-elect Donald Trump   were accused of supporting a controversial measure to privatize Indian land in order to allow easier access to oil reserves. He and 15 other politicians also belong to the newly formed Native American Coalition — started before Trump was elected. Standing Bear said getting the approval from the government on projects that could lead to greater economic development and more jobs are stalled because they’ve had to seek approval from BIA, BLM and the Interior Department. Be ready to fight tomorrow.”
Mullin is Cherokee and a   Republican member of the US House of Representatives from Oklahoma. And another said, “It’s important to remember that 500 years of struggle did not end yesterday. “And here we go … Mullin said the recent article misquoted him. “The US has chosen to exercise   their obligations through a massive amount of bureaucracy,” he said. He thinks the relationship tribes have with government is   “paternalistic” and hinders their economic opportunities — even though it’s meant to protect them. He doesn’t want to privatize Indian land, he says. In other words, that red tape may be a good thing, according to Taiawagi Helton, a professor of Indian law at the University of Oklahoma. The goal of that 1823 decision was to protect the tribes from being cheated out of their resources — including making sure the tribes get the benefit of oil and gas beneath their land. Standing Bear, who has supported both Democrat and Republican candidates,   agrees with Mullin: Tribes should remain sovereign and be able to make decisions for themselves. Osage officials would like to sell that oil, but they need approval from the feds. “The idea of freeing tribes from federal government seems misplaced. The Osage nation   has   a total of 240 oil wells on its reservation. McIntosh in 1823, tribes have been considered both sovereign, independent nations with their own governments   and infrastructure, and subject to the approval of the federal government. Party today, we won a big one. We want them to be treated like private landowners,” he added. And that’s a problem, according to Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. They can’t develop their resources. In fact, setting them free from federal oversight sounds a lot like right to work — you’re free to work, but without the protection of labor unions,” said Helton. Fresh off a victory in the Dakota Access Pipeline fight, activists, politicians and others took to social media to express outrage and disgust at an idea that would fundamentally alter the relationship the federal government and Native Americans have had for centuries. That doesn’t mean privatization, but it does mean cutting some red tape. Mullin believes Native people would be better off supporting the agenda of Republicans like himself. “It’s nothing short of oppressive,” he said of   federal oversight.

Truck plows into busy Christmas market in Berlin, killing 9

Police subsequently said nine had been killed and that one person has been detained over the incident — which comes less than a week before Christmas. The attack in Berlin also comes five months after Tunisian extremist Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel plowed a 19-ton truck into a crowd on the Nice seafront, killing 86 people. A truck is seen near the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, on December 19, 2016. In another case, a 16-year-old German-Moroccan girl in February stabbed a police officer in the neck with a kitchen knife, wounding him badly, allegedly on ISIS orders. some seriously. The violence began with the January 2015 attacks on a satirical newspaper and a Jewish supermarket in Paris and continued 10 months later with coordinated strikes on the capital’s Bataclan concert hall, national stadium and cafe terraces. A truck plowed into a busy Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, killing at least nine people and wounding 50 more in what police said was a possible terror attack. An ax rampage on a train in the southern state of Bavaria in July injured five people, and a suicide bombing wounded 15 people in the same state six days later. The massacre on the palm-fringed Promenade des Anglais was the latest in a series of jihadist attacks that have rocked France over the past two years. Six people have been charged so far over alleged links to the 31-year-old killer but investigators have yet to prove that any of them knew what he was planning. The bloodshed — as people were watching fireworks display on the Bastille Day public holiday on July 14 — further traumatized a France already reeling from a series of jihadist attacks. Some are dead,” a police spokeswoman told AFP. Ambulances and police rushed to the area after the driver drove up the pavement of the market in a central square popular with tourists, in scenes reminiscent of the deadly truck attack in the French city of Nice in July. Germany has been shaken this year by several assaults claimed by the Islamic State group and carried out by asylum-seekers. “We are investigating whether it was a terror attack but do not yet know what was behind it,” a police spokesman said. ISIS moved quickly after the attack to claim Bouhlel as one of its followers. “There are at least 50 injured … Credit:

Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

Attacks rock France  
The arrival of 890,000 refugees last year has polarized Germany and misgivings run particularly deep in the ex-communist east, even more so since ISIS-linked attacks in July carried out by Syrian asylum-seekers. Investigators said he suffered from depression and appeared to have become radicalized very quickly. The attacks have hardened attitudes on security and immigration, fuelling the rise of the far-right ahead of next year’s presidential election
Another 11 people were arrested lat week in France suspected of helping to arm Bouhlel.

How the best bread in Paris ended up in my freezer, and why it made me think about death

It’s just a big, round, four-pound loaf of sourdough. “It’s just a good way to start your morning,” says Wright. It was a gift. The taste. While in Paris, they met the owner of Poilane at the time, a man named Lionel Poilane, a celebrity of sorts in the baking-mad city. You know, honor the kindness and warmth the Poilanes once extended to him, by making their incredible product available   to his customers. And then the guy says, ‘Look, I have property in Normandy this weekend. Food has a way of transporting us. There are only a couple times in life when a chance decision extends your shelf-life. ‘No. “There’s this old man who panhandles in Harvard Square,” he says. Years ago, he was travelling through France with his wife. Famed food writer David Lebovitz says he moved to Paris, in part, to be closer to the Poilane bakery. If not for a man politely declining a fatal helicopter ride, I might not have the world’s greatest bread in my freezer.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Gurdal wouldn’t let me leave without it. And the homeless men in Harvard Square didn’t know who he was, or where he went. “They don’t last. And that’s why Gurdal started over-nighting it from Paris, once a week, to his neighborhood grocery store in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And his weekly pick-up at Gurdal’s shop takes him back to that Paris bakery. He keeps a quarter-loaf in the freezer at his home, another in his vacation home, and yet another one at work. But I’m getting ahead of myself. but every Friday morning he will show up here on a bicycle, change his clothes, come into the store, and buys a quarter loaf.”
I tried to track this guy down, but   he hasn’t showed up at Gurdal’s store recently. But Poilane has nearly a century of perfection behind it and a unique “terroir” for each of the ingredients. And so I do. And as I removed it from the toaster I remembered a quote about why the Poilane family likes making things with dough —   it’s because they disappear. He then gave me specific instructions for how to thaw, slice and toast it. Among the bread fiends I talked with, few are as committed to Poilane as the man who imports it, Gurdal. It has minimal ingredients: flour, water, starter, salt. I’ll slice the bread and pop it into the toaster, smear it with butter and jam, pair it with coffee and be thankful. It keeps memories fresh. Do you guys want to come with us?’ Fortunately and unfortunately we said. He’d just picked up his Poilane from Gurdal’s shop. He wouldn’t accept payment. “And he looks older than he probably is … The news stunned the food world. And to anyone else interested in bread. And that’s what I plan to do. All of this for a bread that, at first glance, is nothing fancy. But Gurdal’s connection to Poilane goes far beyond flavor. We’re going to fly there. “And you know, I also rationalize it in thinking, ‘Well, we also get vegetables from California and it’s just about as far.”
Wright first tried Poilane in the 1980s. PRI.org

But he did. And so that’s the long version of how the best bread in Paris ended up in my kitchen. And I tried so many other different breads and yet I keep coming back to Poilane. Life is often like that: random and tragic. His name is Ihsan Gurdal, and he has quite a story. People like me. Gurdal doesn’t make much money off the loaves. “There’s a little bit of, an awkwardness about buying a bread from Paris. People talk about their first time with Poilane the way you might talk about your … I have a private helicopter. It’s known as the “Bread of Paris.” Many journalists have sanctified it in long-form articles. “We hit it off,” he says. We can’t, as tempting as it is.’ And then the next day they crashed.”
Lionel and his wife, Iréna,   died in the crash. Wright admitted the whole thing is a little ridiculous. His loyal clients are willing to pay an ever-changing amount in the vicinity of $10   a pound for the bread. But he’s been doing it now for about a decade. That’s why it’s critical to enjoy the good moments. “The bread is baked on Wednesday, packed hot, and put on an Air France flight,” says Gurdal. At the very least, it’s just something nice. “It would arrive to [Boston] and it would get delivered to us Thursday morning. He seemed offended that I even offered. It’s a little akward. He fished some of his personal stash out of the basement refrigerator in his shop. So it feels more like a chance to pay it forward. We use FedEx now, I think, and you can now even get Poilane delivered to your front door.”
Gurdal doesn’t advertise the service. One customer I did track down was painter Jim Wright. “They really liked us. first time. This all happened back in 2002, but you can telltalking to Gurdal he’s still processing it. He never wants to be without it. The real story starts — like any good food story does — with a connoisseur. And that might explain this whole overnight bread thing. “Even the smell of that bread was stunning.”
Those who try it cannot go back. I met him one morning at his studio. At least, that’s how we started it. Gurdal says those bread fanatics range from the very well off to those without a home. He’s a transplant from Turkey, the size of a volleyball player, and a man who wraps you up in his passion for food, and especially for his favorite bread, Pain Poilane. “The crust. Like we won’t last.”
So you might as well enjoy it. The texture,” says Gurdal. But I enjoy it so much. So until I find something locally that’s just as good or satisfying I’m going to keep up with it,” he says. Taste always does.

Meet the identitarians, Europe’s ‘new right’

And it’s becoming more and more and more.”
Referring to the approximately 1 million refugees and migrants who have entered Germany in the last one-to-two years, Timm said, “If I look at how many people have arrived lately,   and how many we are expecting to arrive in the future — we have no idea how to integrate them really — it’s a big, big problem.”
Timm is a 25-year-old architecture student with a hipster beard and glasses   who drops salty English slang expressions into his conversation with ease. “We don’t believe in white supremacy, but we do believe that every nation has its own culture and that’s something we should hold on to. Some of Trump’s “alt-right” supporters like   Richard Spencer, who advocate   for preserving and protecting the white race   in   the United States, have said they prefer to describe themselves as “identitarian.”
But Timm said the identitarian ideology should not be mixed up with the so-called alt-right   in America. “On the other hand, those from the left side of the political spectrum do not believe in that. “German patriots” is what they call themselves. Tradition! That’s something we don’t want to be involved with,” Timm said. “In Berlin, we do not only have one of these places. “We are trying to play with [Trump’s] rhetoric,” Timm said. The identitarians also insist that it is possible to be proud of one’s own culture and traditions without being tarred as a racist or, as in the case of Germany, a neo-Nazi. Germany’s   domestic   security services   say they are keeping an eye on people affiliated with the movement. And that comes along with strict laws on immigration, but it has nothing to do with supremacy. And still, it has to be insured that Germans stay the majority in Germany.”
That argument might appeal to many Germans. This is also a distinction the American alt-right makes. But all this has to work on very strict circumstances. Werner Patzelt, a professor of political science at the Technical University of Dresden, researches far-right populism in Germany. Identitäre Bewegung Bayern stellt sich vor The Identitarians have borrowed tactics from left-wing groups like Greenpeace. Timm, who started getting involved with the identitarian movement in April, said a more appropriate expression for the group’s beliefs might be something like, “Make Germany Stay Germany.”
Identitarians reject some of the core   beliefs embraced by older far-right groups, Timm told me, such as   anti-Semitism. “I think there are many people that have the right to be here, because they’re being pursued in their country and there’s war and all that. But he added that his movement needs to be   careful, because “make Germany great again” is an expression that the Nazis used. “This is an area where I would not want to live, and I also wouldn’t want my kids to grow up here,”   he said. Timm said identitarian   activists in Germany number between 300 and 400 and tend to support the far-right Alternative for Germany party. An 18-year-old activist named Rosa, who didn’t want to give her last name, told me she has taken part in counter-demonstrations against the identitarians, because she sees them as nothing more than neo-Nazis in disguise. Earlier in the day, we sat down to talk at a German restaurant in East Berlin, where Timm grew up. Stop multiculturalism!” In another video,   someone   whose face is covered goes around parts of Berlin and spray-paints   a message in Arabic on sidewalks   close to mosques and immigrant areas that reads, “Go home.”
“I’m completely all right with controlled immigration,” Timm told me. But the current migrant crisis requires Germany’s borders to be closed temporarily, he added. They seem to relish pulling off political stunts and then putting up videos of their protest actions online. Patzelt   told me that he is   withholding final judgement on the broad identitarian movement in Europe, because these groups are so new. These days, the Berlin neighborhood around Hermannplatz is home to a large population of immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Looking around at all the shopkeepers, street food vendors and passersby, Timm told me that he is worried about the future for Germany. And they are part   of a broader “new right”   emerging in European politics. “You really have to look for Germans around here,” Robert Timm, a spokesman for the identitarians in Berlin, told me on a recent evening as we walked past the subway station at Hermannplatz. He says he takes heart in the fact that the identitarians are not only being criticized by people on the political left in Germany, but by extremist far-right groups as well. “They [have] a lot of Nazis [among them]. A certain amount of immigration in the modern world is expected, he said. The busy intersection of Karl Marx and Hermann Streets gets its name straight out of German history. Freedom! They influence and manipulate people in a way that I cannot accept,” she said. “They’re trying to be cool, and young, and act like one of us, like normal young people.”  
Rosa said she is not persuaded by Timm’s statements against anti-Semitism. Like many of his fellow identitarians, Timm is social media-savvy and appears to spend a lot time online. They are the Identitäre Bewegung,   which translates into English as   the “identitarian movement.”
As a political action group, the identitarians are still quite new in Germany. In August, identitarian activists scaled the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, they waved their black and yellow flags, and then hung up a banner that said, “Secure the border, save lives.”
One   video on YouTube shows German identitarian protesters chanting, “Home! The “identitarian” brand, as it were, began in France. And I asked him if Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to “Make America Great” reflected the identitarian ideology too. Membership with   extremist far-right groups that, for example, promote violence or openly espouse Nazi ideology, are illegal in Germany. “They’re racists, but they say they’re not racists,” Rosa said. “Herman the German,” as he’s known, was a German tribal warrior who fought the Romans in the early first century. “They’re intolerant,” she said of Timm and his fellow identitarians. But above all else, they say they want their government to put stricter limits on immigration, especially from Muslim countries. “Identitarians are positioning themselves on the left wing of the right side of the political spectrum, trying to make clear that one can be willing to preserve distinct Polish, French, German culture without being a Nazi,” Patzelt said. It spread to Austria with the help of a 27-year-old activist named Martin Sellner, who once belonged to a neo-Nazi group but now distances himself from extremist views and says he does not endorse   violence. But to those on the far left, the identitarians represent nothing new. They would claim that identitarians only pretend to be, so to speak, enemies of really right-wing extremists, but actually they are in sympathy with them.”
Whatever becomes of the identitarian movement in Germany, there is one thing that many people here — left, right and center — seem to agree on: The identitarians’ ideological allies from   the Alternative for Germany party appear to be very well placed   to win   lots of seats in next year’s national election. We have plenty of these places. If someone trying to join his group expressed anti-Jewish ideas, or denied the Holocaust, he said that person would not be welcome. They lack a carefully crafted, detailed political ideology. They’re dangerous.

Syria’s war may be the most documented ever. And yet, we know so little.

Despite the war (or perhaps because of it), Syrian citizen media networks, with increasing knowledge and skill, have been a major conduit for the documentation of the war. Access to those technologies gave Syrians the tools both to communicate among themselves and to connect with the rest of the world. Enough remnants of those networks exist now to allow people in conflict zones to continue sharing information. We can identify facts and establish evidence through careful analysis, and with media forensics techniques such as reverse image search, geolocation   and metadata analysis. The Syrian Electronic Army, a parastatal force supporting the Assad regime, in the early days of the struggle targeted activists with “distributed denial-of-service” (DDoS) attacks, hacks   and malware. Ivan Sigal is the executive director of Global Voices. Millions of images, videos, blogs, tweets and audio files have been created about the war, the life that continues on in Syria despite the war, and the affiliated refugee crisis. Syria, prior to the war, had reasonably robust and growing communications technology, with access to mass media networks, satellite TV, internet and mobile data. Demonstrated facts do not necessarily influence the outcome of events. We now know the principles and techniques for organizing, prioritizing and verifying information coming out of Syria. PRI.org

We follow the tweets of 7-year-old Bana Alabed and her mother; the last messages of activists and fighters waiting to surrender or die; and seek to verify chemical attacks or conflicting stories about the bombings of hospitals. That, in turn, forms opinions about who is just and moral, who is worth supporting politically or with resources, and who will be a target of attack. As the devastating siege of eastern Aleppo ends, the world watches, parses   and argues over the meaning of the media messages being shared by those remaining within it.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. These media — created by journalists, citizens, activists, combatants and victims — are the product of our burgeoning participatory media culture, of the overlay of digital documentation and reflection that accompanies much of modern life. We can know a lot about this war, but simply knowing facts isn’t nearly enough to change its course. Against the forces of misinformation, finding and building coherent narratives about the war is an immense challenge. That’s because information in modern conflict isn’t simply about impartially reporting the facts as they occur. Information instead is part of the battle for perception about the war and its combatants. ISIS managed to change the course of the war through the precise, vicious use of violence, especially in documenting the beheading of Western journalists and promoting those videos through media channels. Information and its manipulation have been a vital strategic element in this conflict, and the control of information has become a weapon. The fog of war doesn’t simply happen; combatants contribute to it strategically, with their attempts to mystify and confuse adversaries. Meanwhile, both the Assad regime and ISIS targeted journalists for their work. We can build and maintain trusted relationships with friends, colleagues   and sources who are proximate to the conflict. The Syrian civil war may be the most documented war in history. And at the same time, we struggle to understand whether this information fits into our existing worldviews, or upends them. That is the essence of understanding power, and its limits. But access to huge online archives of information about the war doesn’t guarantee that it is organized or presented in ways that accord with our expectations of war reporting.

Brazil, Snowden, Russia and fake news: a conversation with Glenn Greenwald

But one of its dangers is that we can just Balkanize our world and we can become atomized and only consume information that is pleasing or self-affirming, which is really dangerous in a democracy, right? As long as [Snowden’s] in Russia, it doesn’t matter what Trump wants to do to him, because he can’t get his hands on him, just like Obama couldn’t. Glenn Greenwald: The impetus principally was personal. Throughout, Greenwald and other writers at The Intercept have sharply questioned the claims and demanded the US government offer stronger evidence to the public. He explained how his new home gave him a new perspective for that work:
GG: I was motivated to become more political in large part as a result of post-9/11 developments in American political discourse and the climate there — putting people in prison with no charges, those kinds of issues. But it would seem to me that you could have solutions to address that. Of course it’s a concern, but you know the amazing thing is that Snowden did what he did not just knowing that it was a risk, but believing he would likely end up in prison for many decades. So the only option we had for living together was being here, and I wanted to anyway, because I wanted something new. Diplomatic relations have changed between countries, so that now protections against mass surveillance are taken much more seriously.  
Edward Snowden, the former defense contractor who leaked Greenwald and other journalists thousands of classified documents, is currently living in de-facto exile in Russia. But one of the things the Snowden reporting taught me was that good journalism, and high-impact journalism, actually does have a very high potential for change. Tear gas and rubber bullets have been fired. The term, “fake news,” though, has become so much broader. What you’re really here to do is to make information available to the public and to institutions, and let them decide what ought to be done about it democratically and legally. So, even though the head of the NSA wasn’t arrested and prosecuted as a result of what we revealed — in large part because the scandal wasn’t that the NSA was breaking the law, the scandal was what had been made legal unbeknownst to most people — there have been really fundamental changes in terms of how mass surveillance is conducted. In downtown Rio, a few miles from where we sit, protesters have been waging battles with military police over an unpopular austerity law. I don’t think anyone knows how that will play out. I actually liked living in a place — Brazil — where people didn’t know my work and didn’t care about my work because it was often polarizing and controversial, and it was nice to be in a place where no one cared. What you may not know is that Greenwald has lived for more than a decade in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro. GG: Well, that’s the danger, right? And he chose to do what he did anyway. The reason that there is an issue with fake news, however you want to define it, is to me twofold:
One is that it’s just the nature of internet technologies, which has so many good things. Obama wanted to put him in prison for a few decades and was thwarted by [Snowden’s] stay in Russia.  
Russia has been in the news recently for another major reason: US officials are accusing the Kremlin of historic meddling in the 2016 US election. He is refusing to go, and observers are warning that a full-blown constitutional crisis could ensue. I ended up meeting my now-husband of 11 years on the second full day that I was here. So you have the most trusted names in news, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, to NBC News, that convinced an entire country to go to war over weapons that didn’t exist. It hosted the Summer Olympics, and then impeached its president. And that instability, although it can be risky and scary sometimes, actually makes you feel like you do have more of a potential impact in doing your journalism, because it can have a much more direct effect on large numbers of people who are still figuring out what their country and their government are going to be. And I think it’s important to ask why? President-elect Donald Trump has opined in the past (on Twitter, where else?) that Snowden should be executed. If it’s this narrow, concrete term that refers to this very specific phenomenon of Macedonian teenagers purposefully manufacturing what they know are false [stories] to make people spread and click it in order to generate ad revenue, I think it remains to be seen how significant that really has been. GG: I think part of it is that you just have to accept that as a journalist you have a somewhat limited role. But what about Trump’s reported cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin?  


Earlier this year, Greenwald also launched The Intercept Brasil, a Portuguese-language version of the news site covering Brazilian current affairs and politics. But I think the reason that has happened is because faith in media institutions has been lost. To be a journalist reporting on Brazilian politics is just endlessly compelling. You’re not a prosecutor, you’re not a judge, you’re not a police officer. I was practicing law in New York in 2005, and had begun to think that I wanted to just kind of explore different options for life. GG: For one thing, [Brazil] is just a fascinating arena, politically. So, I just kind of cleared my schedule for eight weeks, rented an apartment in Rio, where I had been visiting many times, and came here with the intention of just walking on the beach and clearing my head and figuring things out. Because it’s a young democracy, I do think it tends to be a little more unstable than, say, in the US or older democracies. You can’t arrest people. All of which are direct byproducts of the Snowden reporting. It’s a fascinating time to be a journalist in Brazil.  
But this detachment from his new home didn’t last long. Or you have a financial collapse that all of the experts that at these media outlets long venerated failed to see and contributed to, of course you’re going to have a loss in institutions. So, sometimes it is frustrating when the outcome isn’t exactly what you want. From his home in the hills, Greenwald, 49, has continued to dissect and roil US politics via The Intercept, a news organization he launched with filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Jeremy Scahill in 2014. But what I want to know, first of all, is how Greenwald ended up in Rio de Janeiro, of all places. It’s almost, at this point, something that gets applied to any type of journalism that I dislike. I think asking how faith in media institutions can be re-established is critical to battling this fake news plague. In our interview, which took place before the most recent Russian hacking reports, Greenwald had this to say about fake news. Media outlets have reported a slew of allegations ranging from the Russian government ordered hacks of damaging internal Democratic Party files to the claim that it spread “fake news” during the campaign. And earlier this month, a Supreme Court judge ordered the Senate speaker to step down over new corruption charges. And then, most of all, consumers have pressured tech companies to such a great extent that you have companies like Facebook and Google using end-to-end encryption, which is a genuine threat to the surveillance state’s ability to monitor. Behavior has changed greatly among individual internet users, who now use encryption and other forms of technology that create a barrier for surveillance. GG: Obviously, right now, he’s in Russia   and is protected with asylum, or at least a three-year residency. GG: For me, the key issue is how do you define “fake news”? I asked Greenwald if this makes him nervous for his friend and source. The Intercept Brasil is Glenn Greenwald’s latest, Portuguese-language site. You probably know Glenn Greenwald as the American lawyer-turned-journalist who worked with whistleblower Edward Snowden to reveal global systems of secret government surveillance. So, I think the fear is that if Putin and Trump are serious about re-establishing détente or better relations, one of the prizes that Putin can give to Trump is Edward Snowden. That was our working assumption when we were in Hong Kong. (You can listen to Greenwald   below.)
For the first few years Greenwald lived in Rio, he continued almost exclusively to write about politics and constitutional issues in the US. Greenwald described how the Snowden revelations of US spying on Brazilian officials, followed by the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, landed him wholeheartedly in the maw of Brazilian politics. At the time, the US had an explicit ban on granting immigration rights to same-sex couples, while Brazil, amazingly, given that it’s the largest Catholic country on the planet, actually offered immigration rights based on same-sex marriage. I meet Greenwald in the lobby of a hotel in Rio’s Sao Conrado neighborhood on a hot, clammy afternoon at an exhausting and chaotic time for Brazil.  
Speaking of impact, I asked Greenwald how he feels knowing that despite all of his reporting on secret spying by the National Security Agency and other governments, the main architects of those programs are still walking free and government surveillance remains as strong as ever. So, there’s always been varying risks hanging over Edward Snowden’s head and perhaps it’s gotten a little bit more intense, and sure, I do worry about it, but there’s not a lot that can be done. Or even any journalism that’s misleading or false.

A Belgian woman explains why she joined ISIS, and why she came back

It’s hard to believe someone could be blind to the brutality of ISIS and the hostile war zone Syria had become, even if this was before the declaration of ISIS’ so-called caliphate, before the execution of journalist James Foley, and before the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. She converted when she was 16. But it also attracted the attention of an ISIS recruiter. In June 2014, two months after they met, they left with her son, Nassim, who was 4. She had a son with her long-time boyfriend, and when he abandoned them, she says she spiraled into depression and retreated into an extreme form of religion. “I made a very bad mistake. “Thankfully my son was only four,” she says, “because when boys are 12, they automatically go to fight.”
During all this time, Passoni says she was able to keep in touch with her family, and she told them how much she wanted to go home. However, not all women who join ISIS want to carry out attacks. Once the family arrived in Syria, Passoni says she was confined to a communal women’s home with strict rules while her husband was sent to training. “He played on my weaknesses. Her best friend was Muslim, and Passoni used to celebrate Islamic holidays with her family. She’s monitored by police and has to check in regularly with probation officers. Passoni, 31, grew up in a Catholic family in the Belgian city of Charleroi. But Passoni insists she didn’t know any better; she never read the news. “Entering is easy. He told me that I could help the Syrian people, that I could be a nurse and be useful,” she says. Passoni created a Facebook profile under a fake name and posted photos of burqa-clad women wielding Kalashnikovs. Passoni is trying to move on with her life, but says it’s difficult to find work with a criminal record. “This young woman is not the same one who came back, or the one who left,” Lorsignol says. It made her feel strong after the breakup, she says. Today, her husband is serving a four-year sentence in a Belgian prison for associating with a terrorist organization. She lived there for nine months before escaping. “I quickly opened my eyes that it was all a lie. Lorsignol was with Passoni’s parents at the Turkish border when she crossed over last year. He was looking for ISIS wives. “I hope I can convince others not to go, to inform themselves, and above all to know that Islam is not this and that we can all live together.”
Catherine Lorsignol, a Belgian journalist and co-author of Passoni’s memoir, has followed Passoni’s story since meeting her parents while reporting on radicalization. She wasn’t exactly devout. “Today, she’s determined, brave and is taking a risk by talking.”
Still, in the eyes of many people here, Passoni is a terrorist sympathizer. One day, her son returned with a teddy bear and a plastic knife and showed her how he’d been taught to behead the toy. Laura Passoni is among   at least 550 women known to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS, according to a 2015 report from the Institute of Strategic Dialogue. Passoni’s memoir about her life with ISIS in Raqqa. Even her son, now 6, is seen as a threat. Passoni says Nassim barely remembers Syria. At least he doesn’t talk about it if he does. She says she doesn’t know if they will stay together when he gets out. I met her in a hotel lobby in Brussels, a setting far from the life she had been living in Raqqa, ISIS’ de facto capital in Syria. But Nassim had to change schools because the parents of some of his classmates demanded that he leave. “Recruiters tell us that our families don’t understand us, but they understand us. That’s when she began to realize she wouldn’t be helping Syrians like the recruiter promised her. All she can do now, she says, is tell her story instead of hiding. I was just there to procreate for the Islamic State,” Passoni says. Passoni, her son and her husband fled to the Turkish border where her parents were waiting on the other side. Leaving is not. She imagined jihadists as brave, loyal men who would take care of her and her son. She’s prohibited from leaving the country, using social media   or   communicating with anyone she knew in Syria. “It was really important for me to restart my life from zero because I was so depressed.”
She was looking for love and purpose. Men would drop by unannounced to take him to the mosque. I regret taking my son there,” she says. Passoni has written a memoir called “In   the Heart of Daesh with My Son” (Daesh is an Arabic acronym for ISIS) and she’s begun speaking to kids at Belgian schools about her experience. Passoni is Belgian, and says she was seduced by the terrorist group to move with her toddler to Syria. From that moment I did everything to try to leave so that my son wouldn’t become a terrorist.”
Passoni says she tried to shield Nassim, but he no longer belonged just to her. Passoni was given a suspended sentence after judges determined she was sincere about not knowing the true nature of ISIS when she left for Syria. So when a Tunisian man living in Belgium contacted Passoni on Facebook, she decided to marry him and take off for Syria. Escaping became even more urgent when Passoni got pregnant and needed medical attention. Credit:

Courtesy of Laura Passoni

Passoni is also forbidden from speaking to her husband while he’s in prison. More have gone since. Passoni says the more she learned about Islam, the more she wanted to be a part of it. And, unfortunately, we believe them.”
Passoni says the recruiter showed her romantic videos about life in Syria, and never the violent ones. Passoni says if she can help prevent one person from joining ISIS, then her experience will have had meaning. She failed on her first attempt to flee, but on her second try, she made it. When three women were arrested recently in Paris for an attempted car bombing in the heart of the city, attention turned to female jihadists and the apparently growing number of Western women who sympathize with ISIS.

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot and killed during visit to art exhibit in Ankara

But the rhetoric has warmed considerably since a reconciliation deal was signed earlier this year and a Russian and Turkish-brokered deal has helped the evacuation of citizens from Aleppo in the last days. Credit:

Umit Bektas/Reuters

‘People fleeing’
The shooting took place at Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi, a major art exhibition hall in the Cankaya district of Ankara where most foreign embassies are located, including Russia’s mission. They stand on opposite sides of the Syria conflict with Ankara backing rebels trying to topple Moscow-ally, President Bashar al-Assad. The state-run Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been “neutralized” in a police operation, without giving further details. Protesters in Turkey have held Moscow responsible for human rights violations in Aleppo. Turkish police secure the area near an art gallery where the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot, in Ankara, Turkey, on December 19, 2016. “When the ambassador was delivering a speech, a tall man wearing a suit, fired into the air first and then took aim at the ambassador,” said Kilic. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was at the scene to supervise a police operation, Turkish television said. A Turkish policeman crying “Aleppo” and “revenge” shot dead Russia’s ambassador to Turkey at an art exhibition in Ankara on Monday, in what Moscow said was a “terrorist act”. “Today in Ankara as a result of an attack the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov received wounds that he died from,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in televised comments. “It happened during the opening of an exhibition,” Hurriyet correspondent Hasim Kilic, who was at the scene, told AFP. “We qualify what happened as a terrorist act.”
The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin had been informed of the attack. When people were fleeing, he fired again,” he added. Turkey and Russia saw relations plunge to their worst levels since the Cold War last year when a Turkish jet shot down a Russian warplane over Syria. A Turkish official on Monday denied Ankara had forged any secret “bargain” with Moscow over the future of Syria, despite the improving cooperation that led to the deal for evacuations from Aleppo. “He said something about Aleppo and ‘revenge.’   He ordered the civilians to leave the room. Andrei Karlov died of his wounds after the shooting, which occurred on the eve of a key meeting between the Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers on the Syria conflict. Dramatic television footage showed a man in a dark suit and tie waving a gun and gesturing in the air at the Ankara exhibition hall. The incident came after days of protests in Turkey over Russia’s role in Syria, although Moscow and Ankara are now working closely together to evacuate citizens from the battered city of Aleppo. Pictures published by the Hurriyet daily showed at least two men in suits lying flat on the ground as another man brandished a gun. The attack comes a day before Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, Assad’s other key ally, were to hold unprecedented tripartite talks on the Syria conflict in Moscow. The mayor of Ankara identified the attacker as a Turkish policeman.

House of Blues: Part two of a conversation with Andrew Solomon about depression

If you’re in crisis, don’t hold it in. On this episode of The Civilist we’re going to do something a little different. It’s easy for many to feel a little blue this time of year, but the holidays can be especially difficult for people who are struggling with depression. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-8255. It inspired me to write an essay in the New York Times called, “Opening Up About Depression.” You’ll hear it mentioned. This segment goes deeper into the causes of depression, and how the way we talk about mental illness affects the way people see and deal with it. I should tell you that “Noonday Demon” made a tremendous difference in helping me understand my own life-long depression. If you haven’t heard it, I invite you to go back and check out that episode. This episode is the second part of my interview with Andrew Solomon. He’s a clinical psychology professor at Columbia, and wrote “Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression,” which details his own struggles with depression.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Other resources can be found through the National Alliance on Mental Illness website, which is NAMI.org. And I’ve been thinking more about that interview, now that we’re now smack dab in the dark days of December. PRI.org

On our earlier show, Solomon shared his advice about how to come out about depression, and ways to be supportive when a loved one discloses their struggle. It’s called “Say This, Not That.”
But you only heard part of that conversation. You might remember a conversation I had with the incomparable Andrew Solomon a few months back. And the Trevor Project (trevor.org) is a truly amazing service for LGBTQ people in crisis.

Do you know what’s in your medical records?

“I was recently invited by an IBM security team to take a tour of the dark web, which is a place hackers can go to do not very legal things … “Patients unequivocally have a right to a copy of their medical record and other health data, and that now includes a digital copy of that information, if the doctor has the capability to produce it electronically,” she says. This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow. A few smaller startups have caught on to this, and   a market is growing for apps that will read many different data formats and allow patients to download information. So, if you have an accelerometer on your iPhone or you’re collecting your blood pressure or heart rate, all that information can now be combined together on a smartphone.”
Unfortunately, a lot of patient information generated by doctors and hospitals can’t be read by a personal computer or smartphone — and that continues to be a major source of frustration. “Apple, which you wouldn’t haven’t associated with health care even a few years ago, has made a big push into trying to get medical information to patients,” Farr says. They are simply asking for what they have a right to. Hospitals have not been rated particularly highly in the past for their security practices, and I think in the next five years, we’re going to see increasing pressure for them to be as secure as other industries that manage sensitive information, like the financial sector.”
All of this   said, the records situation for patients is improving, and Mackay encourages people to learn how to access   and store   their medical information. … We shouldn’t have to pay someone else to go out and find it for us.”
Mackay agrees. PRI.org

“It continues to be quite difficult for patients to navigate the records request process, and particularly, to obtain digital copies of their health information,” says Erin Mackay, coordinator of Get My Health Data, an initiative based in Washington, DC that advocates for patient access to digital health records. Medical records are the new credit cards. Twenty years later, much has improved, but patients still have trouble   prying their personal information out of hospitals and health care systems. and I saw a lot of medical records up for sale. Doctors don’t want to be responsible for having their patients’ medical records compromised, and patients fear hackings, too. Once you understand your rights, once you make the request and successfully receive your data, you need to be thinking about a safe and secure place to store it. “Patients aren’t asking their doctor for a favor. Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. In 1996, Congress enacted HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which was designed, in part, to give patients the right to access their own medical records. “First, it’s important to have an understanding of what your rights are,” she says. “This is a serious consideration,” Farr says. “But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfectly aggregated information, because [a doctor or hospital] still might claim that they’ve lost your record or they can’t find it.”
On the one hand, it’s great to see technology companies addressing this issue, Farr says, but on the other hand, “patients have the right to this information. There are a lot of apps on the market that either will go out and make the request for you or provide a place for you to store and organize your data, but there’s a lot of variation in how apps or medical devices use, share   and protect health information.”
“So, I think it’s important that we start doing a better job telling patients about these apps and about data-sharing policies and practices in a transparent and understandable way, so that consumers can make these decisions and feel confident that they have easy and secure access to their data when they need it,” Mackay says. I would also note that empowering patients with this kind of information to help them make decisions, to set and track goals, to share information they have about their health status and their symptoms, is particularly important.”
However, internet security remains a significant challenge. “Then, very importantly, what to do once you get [the] data … One of these is called PicnicHealth. “They’ve released things like HealthKit, which is one of their interfaces that aims to bring together the medical information that you might get from a provider, like your lab history and so on, and combine that with the types of information that patients are now collecting themselves. “I think there’s a lack of understanding of the rights patients have to this information and providers’ responsibilities to make it available.”
Big tech companies like Apple and Google are working to make access easier for patients, as are a number of small startups, says Christina Farr, senior   writer at Fast Company in San Francisco. Patients pay the company a fee, and it will “try to get all of your medical records from all of the different hospitals and health systems that you’ve ever been to you throughout your life,” Farr says.

Syria suspends Aleppo evacuations after deadly bus attacks

By early evening in Aleppo, more than 30 buses were packed with people awaiting evacuation, while thousands more stood in the cold for their turn to board other buses, an AFP reporter said. Freezing temperatures
Iran’s official news agency IRNA said the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran would meet Tuesday in Moscow to discuss the situation. “We cannot allow it to pass because this is a disaster.”
The Security Council will vote Monday on a new draft resolution on observers after France agreed to take Russian concerns into account, diplomats said. Before evacuations were suspended around 8,500 people, including some 3,000 fighters, left for rebel-held territory elsewhere in the north, said the Observatory. The ICRC appealed for safe passage for the civilians. But Russia said it would use its veto to block the French proposal, and instead presented a rival draft asking the UN to make “arrangements” to monitor the situation. Evacuations Sunday of fighters and civilians from the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo were postponed until further notice after gunmen attacked buses for a similar operation from two rebel-besieged villages. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Syria visited Damascus ally Iran on Sunday for talks with top officials on the Syrian conflict. Yasser al-Youssef of the Nureddin al-Zinki rebel group confirmed that “the evacuations have been momentarily suspended.”
The Observatory said buses would not leave the rebel areas of Aleppo until residents of Fuaa and Kafraya were also able to leave. A rebel representative had also said that hundreds of people would also be evacuated from Zabadani and Madaya, two regime-besieged rebel towns in Damascus province, as part of the deal. A physiotherapist, Mahmud Zaazaa, said only “three doctors, a pharmacist and three nurses” remain in the area. An AFP reporter visited a hospital in the rebel sector where patients lay on floors without food or water and almost no heating. “We believe quite simply that what they are proposing is unworkable and dangerous,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said ahead of the meeting. Aleppo has seen some of the worst violence of the nearly six-year war that has killed more than 310,000 people. The Russian draft seen by AFP made no specific mention of observers going to Aleppo. Diplomats said the Security Council vote would take place on Monday. “People have suffered a lot. Dozens of buses   had entered the last rebel-held parts of Aleppo on Sunday to resume the evacuation of thousands of increasingly desperate trapped Syrian civilians and rebels. Syria’s official   media   says   buses were attacked and burned in the Idlib province while en route to evacuate ill and injured people from the besieged Syrian villages of al-Foua and Kefraya. By AFP’s Karam al-Masri   in Aleppo, Syria, with Layal Abou Rahal in Beirut, Lebanon. State television said 100 buses would take people out. But just as a deal to go ahead with the evacuations was found and announced by both sides, gunmen attacked buses sent to take people out of Fuaa and Kafraya and torched them, a monitor said. The development came as Syria ally Russia warned it would veto a French-drafted resolution at the Security Council on sending United Nations observers to Aleppo and submitted a counter draft resolution. This photo was provided by the official news outlet   SANA on Dec. UN envoy   Staffan de Mistura estimated that as of Thursday around 40,000 civilians and perhaps as many as 5,000 opposition fighters remained in Aleppo’s rebel enclave. ‘A disaster’
Buses began entering several east Aleppo districts earlier Sunday under Red Crescent and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) supervision “to bring the remaining terrorists and their families out,” state news agency SANA said, referring to the rebels. An official said more than half of Aleppo’s buildings and infrastructure have been badly damaged or destroyed since violence erupted there in 2012. The main obstacle to a resumption had been a dispute over how many people would be evacuated in parallel from two Shiite villages, Fuaa and Kafraya,   under rebel siege in northwestern Syria. The measure would task Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with deploying UN staff to Aleppo to monitor evacuations and report on the protection of civilians who remain there. Please come to an agreement and help save thousands of lives,” said Syria delegation head Marianne Gasser. The UN Security Council met to discuss a French draft resolution saying that “tens of thousands of besieged Aleppo inhabitants” are in need of aid and evacuation. 18. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one bus driver was killed in the attack and that the overall evacuation operation was put on hold. Families have been sheltering at night in freezing temperatures in bombed out apartment blocks in Aleppo’s Al-Amiriyah district, the departure point for evacuations. “This is an optimistic percentage of the damage,” Aleppo administrator Nadeem Rahmoun said. Credit:

SANA/Handout via Reuters

The Britain-based monitor said security guarantees were needed before they could resume. The evacuation was suspended on Friday, a day after convoys of people had begun leaving the rebel sector under a deal allowing the regime to take full control of the battleground city.