November 3, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 6:40 PM


Tallahassee Yoga Shooter Was A Far-Right Misogynist Who Railed Against Women And Minorities Online (David Mack, Amber Jamieson & Julia Reinstein, 11/03/18, BuzzFeed News)

The man who shot dead two women at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, on Friday before killing himself was a far-right extremist and self-proclaimed misogynist who railed against women, black people, and immigrants in a series of online videos and songs.

Scott Beierle, 40, was named by Tallahassee Police as the shooter who opened fire inside the Hot Yoga Tallahassee studio, killing two and injuring four other women and a man.

Those killed were named as Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, who worked at Florida State University's College of Medicine, and FSU student Maura Binkley, 21.

Posted by orrinj at 12:39 PM


Afghan Shi'ite militia battles Taliban, raising sectarian fears (Ismail Sameem, 11/03/18, Reuters) 

A week of fighting between Taliban militants and fighters loyal to a commander from the mainly Shi'ite Hazara minority has heightened fears of a dangerous new phase of sectarian violence in Afghanistan.

The clashes in the central province of Uruzgan, which have killed at least 21 people, have highlighted concerns that Hazaras, members of a mainly Shi'ite Persian-speaking minority targeted by Islamic State attacks over recent years, may take up arms in frustration at a lack of action by the government.

Posted by orrinj at 3:59 AM


The Ravenmaster by Christopher Skaife review - my life at the Tower of London (PD Smith,  3 Nov 2018, The Guardian)

Christopher Skaife has what he describes as "the oddest job in Britain". His official title is Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London. He is one of the former soldiers who are selected to be the ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London and custodians of its ancient rituals. As if that isn't Gormenghastian enough, Skaife is also the Tower's ravenmaster, responsible for the safety and welfare of the seven fearsome, black-as-night corvids on whose continued residence at the Tower the fate of the nation depends, at least according to legend. As Skaife neatly puts it: "I look after the ravens - and the ravens look after us."

Skaife grew up in Dover; at the age of 16, after some run-ins with the police and fights with local gangs, he left to join the army: "My parents probably thought, well, if it's not that, he's going to end up in jail." It was, he says, "the best decision I ever made". After two decades of military service he applied to be a Yeoman Warder. He admits the ravens are now "my life".

Posted by orrinj at 3:57 AM


Muslims and Jews stand together in grieving Pittsburgh (Ali Harb, 3 November 2018, ME Eye)

Among the kippahs at a memorial service for the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre victims on Friday, there were a few hijabs.

Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, addressed mourners and worshippers at the Rodef Shalom Congregation, lauding the city's unity and the Jewish community's resilience.

"This wasn't about a hateful act; this was about a hopeful community building solidarity in the shadow of a crisis," Mohamed said.

An online crowdfunding campaign launched by Muslim activists across the country and coordinated locally by Mohamed has raised more than $230,000 for victims of the attack. [...]

As Mohamed left the synagogue on Friday, several members of the Jewish community walked up to him to express their gratitude.

"The Jewish community in America and the immigrant Muslim community in America have very similar stories. The Jewish community just has been here earlier," Mohamed told MEE.

He explained that early Jewish immigrants were vilified and isolated, much like Muslims today.

Mohamed added that beyond their experiences as minority groups, Muslim and Jewish Americans share Abrahamic faiths that allow them to relate to one another.

Asked if tensions had risen between the two communities locally because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mohamed said the strife in the Middle East is a political - not religious - issue.

"When you don't have everything painted in the lens of Israel-Palestine, you can actually talk about faith... We're here; we can actually talk about theology and the [religious] differences - what they believe and what we believe and have intellectual dialogue and civil discourse around things," Mohamed said.

He added that personal relationships make discussions about the Middle East less divisive and more productive.

"We can talk about solutions. We can talk about how to move forward because we know each other," Mohamed said. "We won't hate each other for not agreeing."

Countering the violent extremists among us (Hady Amr, October 30, 2018, Brookings)

[W]ithin a week of the attack, President Bush addressed the nation from a leading Washington mosque to condemn anti-Muslim bigotry, saying, "The face of terror is not the true face of Islam," and, "Islam is peace."

Sure, that didn't solve things, but America's conservative president pressed forward with the vision of an inclusive America at home, while he rightly went to war against al-Qaida overseas.

Today, things are more complex. Is the "us" under attack comprised of Americans? From mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats, to the slaughter of American Jews at prayer, to a man who murdered African-Americans at a grocery store after failing to break into an African-American church, it certainly seems that a foundational ideal of America is indeed under attack.

That foundational ideal is: "E pluribus unum" ("Out of many, one"). It's printed on the coins in our pockets and on the Great Seal of the United States. 

Even more complicated and painful is to attempt to answer the question of who the "they" is. That's what brings me to shudder when I grapple with how to discuss this with my children: The "they" is also the "us." Or at least it's within us.

These murderers are effectively terrorists, and these terrorists are Americans. They are our neighbors. They are not some easily vilified foreign entity or individual. The killers are within us. They are of us. We can no longer avoid forcefully organizing ourselves to address this.