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Friday, June 28, 2013

Troubling Cooperation between CIA, NYPD

Part of the training and support the CIA gave the NYPD after 9/11 included embedding four officers in the department. This seemed to be an “unofficial cover” that allowed the officers to operate in ways that are illegal in their CIA positions. According to a newly-released report, one officer conducted investigations on U.S. soil and believed there were no limitations on what he could do; another was given “unfiltered” access to police files that had nothing to do with foreign intelligence. These revelations come as criticism of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy increases. This week, the New York City Council voted to increase independent oversight of the NYPD, while Bloomberg defended his policies, saying “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.” This doesn’t match  the numbers, which show that 87% of all people stopped in 2011 were blacks and latinos. The percentage of  black men ages 14-24 who had been stopped was 106% – essentially, the NYPD made more stops of young black men than there are young black men in New York City. Moreover, a study showed that stopping white people was twice as likely to yield a weapon and a third more likely to yield contraband.

Secularists and Islamists Clash at Egypt Protests

Thousands of supporters and opponents of President Muhammed Morsi held rival protests in Cairo, while around the country violent clashes have broken out. For the past several days, anti- and pro-government supporters have fought each other in cities along the Nile Delta, leaving four dead and over 400 injured. Just today, in Alexandria, fighting erupted when someone on the Islamist side fired birdshots on the anti-Morsi protesters marching on the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters. The protesters later broke into the headquarters and torched it. These incidents have increased fears that Sunday would bring even more widespread and bloodier battles. Egypt’s top Muslim authority warned, ”We must be alert lest we slide into a civil war that does not differentiate between supporters and opponents.”

Surge of Attacks on Civilians in Iraq

Last month was the bloodiest month in Iraq since June 2008; over 2,000 people have been killed since the beginning of April, and over 1,000 in May alone. Today’s attacks killed 19 at a Sahwa-run military checkpoint, a Shi’ite leader’s funeral and a soccer game. While no group claimed responsibility, it seems likely that all are the work of Sunni extremists (Sahwa are a Sunni group that joined the U.S. to fight al Qaeda and are perceived as “traitors”). This comes after a series of bombings struck cafes around Baghdad, and a month that has seen mosques, local markets and restaurants singled out for attack. Like many countries in the region, Iraq’s sectarian tensions have been amplified by the conflict in neighboring Syria.

Dozens Killed in Nigerian Feud

After a spate of cattle thefts in Nigeria’s central Plateau state, gunmen believed to be Fulani herders attacked three villages to Tarok farmers, burning down hundreds of houses and killing 32. Another 20 were killed when the security forces responded to the attack. A Fulani spokesman denied the allegations that his community had been involved in the attacks, but said that 1,000 cattle had been stolen from them this week and complaints to authorities had done nothing. Disputes over grazing rights and property are common in this remote region, but this level of carnage is unusual. While the Tarok are Christian and the Fulani are Muslim, the clashes tend to be due to a complicated mix of tribe, politics, religion and land. Thousands of Nigerians have been killed by similar violence since 1999.

Weekend Reading: The Upside of Trauma

“In numerous studies canvassing a great variety of traumas, researchers have found that many people, [...] In a process that is relatively normal, if easily derailed, [...] engage in a struggle for psychological survival that reroutes the direction of their lives in a way they ultimately acknowledge is for the better. The name psychologists have given this phenomenon is post-traumatic growth.” In Pacific Standard Magazine.

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