Daily Archives: November 12, 2017

Today’s Holiday: Feast of St. Frances Cabrini

Today’s Holiday:
Feast of St. Frances Cabrini

The first American citizen to be proclaimed a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, Francesca Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917) was born in Italy. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1880, and went on to establish orphanages, schools and hospitals in many American cities, as well as in Europe and South America. She was canonized on July 7, 1946. Her feast day is commemorated in many places, but particularly at Mother Cabrini High School in New York City, in whose chapel she is buried, and at every establishment of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Today’s Birthday: Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 CE)

Today’s Birthday:
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 CE)

Augustine was bishop of Hippo, a Roman city that is now Annaba, Algeria. In his early 30s, he converted to Christianity, gave up his position as professor of rhetoric, became a bishop, and turned his home into a monastery. He served for more than 40 years. While he lay dying, Vandals destroyed his city but spared his library. His writings, which include Confessions and De Civitate Dei, deeply influenced Western Christianity. What now-extinct religion did he originally practice? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

This Day in History: Nevado del Ruiz Erupts in Colombia (1985)

This Day in History:
Nevado del Ruiz Erupts in Colombia (1985)

When ash began to fall on the Colombian town of Armero, local authorities assured residents that it was safe to stay put, despite geologists’ warnings to the contrary. It had been more than 140 years since the last serious eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz, known to residents as “the Sleeping Lion.” That night, a lahar—a massive flow of mud and debris—swept down the side of the erupting volcano, destroying Armero. It was the worst natural disaster in Columbian history. How many people were killed? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Quote of the Day: Herman Melville

Quote of the Day:
Herman Melville

If you can get nothing better out of the world, get a good dinner out of it, at least. More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Article of the Day: Greek Terracotta Figurines

Article of the Day:
Greek Terracotta Figurines

Terracotta figurines were a common form of artistic and religious expression in Ancient Greece. Today, they offer invaluable insight into the everyday life of the Ancient Greeks. First used as religious offerings, the figurines could often be purchased at sanctuary entrances and represented important life events, such as giving birth. Only around the 4th century BCE did the statuettes acquire a decorative function, becoming distorted, deformed caricatures known as what? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Idiom of the Day: in bits and pieces

Idiom of the Day:
in bits and pieces

In many small fragments. Watch the video…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Word of the Day: mannequin

Word of the Day:

Definition: (noun) A woman who wears clothes to display fashions.
Synonyms: model
Usage: She longed to become a mannequin and preened for hours before going out in public.: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

From Wikipedia: Myriostoma


The mushroom Myriostoma coliforme in Bella Vista, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Myriostoma is a fungal genusin the family Geastraceae. The genus is monotypic, containing the single speciesMyriostoma coliforme. It is anearthstar, so named because the spore-bearing sac’s outer wall splits open into the shape of a star. The inedible fungus has a cosmopolitan distribution, and has been found in Africa, Asia, North and South America, and Europe, where it grows inhumus-rich forests or inwoodlands, especially on well-drained and sandy soils. A somewhat rare fungus, it appears on the Red Lists of 12 European countries, and in 2004 it was one of 33 species proposed for protection under the Bern Convention by the European Council for Conservation of Fungi.

Quick facts: Myriostoma, Scientific classification …

The fruit body, initially shaped like a puffball, is encased within an outer covering that splits open from the top to form rays. These rays curve down to expose an inner papery spore case, which contains the fertile spore-bearing tissue, the gleba. The fungus is unique among the earthstars in having a spore case that is supported by multiple stalks, and is perforated by several small holes suggestive of itscommon names salt-shaker earthstar and pepperpot. It is the largest of the earthstar fungi, and reaches diameters of up to 12 cm (4.7 in). Its spherical spores have elongated warts that create a ridge-like pattern on their surface. The spores are dispersed when falling water hits the outer wall of the spore sac, creating puffs of air that force the spores through the holes.

Taxonomy and phylogeny

The species was first mentioned in the scientific literature by Samuel Doody in the second edition of John Ray‘s Synopsis methodica Stirpium Brittanicorum in 1696. Doody briefly described the mushroom like so: “fungus pulverulentus coli instar perforatus, cum volva stellata” (mushroom dusty, like a perforated colander, volva star-shaped), and went on to explain that he found it in 1695 in Kent.

Illustration from James Sowerby‘sColoured Figures of English Fungi or Mushrooms (1803)

It was first described scientifically as a new species in 1776 from collections made in England by James Dickson, who named it Lycoperdon coliforme. He found it growing in roadside banks and hedgerows among nettles inSuffolk and Norfolk. Nicaise Auguste Desvaux first defined and published the new genusMyriostoma in 1809, with the species renamed Myriostoma anglicum (an illegitimate renaming). Christian Hendrik Persoon had previously placed the species in Geastrum in 1801, whileSamuel Frederick Gray would in 1821 describe the genusPolystoma for it. Myriostoma coliforme received its current and final name when August Carl Joseph Corda moved Dickson’s name to Myriostomain 1842, replacing Desvaux’s name.

In North America the fungus began to be reported in the late 19th century, first fromColorado by Charles Horton Peck, and later from Florida, collected by Lucien Underwood in 1891; both findings were reported byAndrew Price Morgan in April 1892. In 1897, Melville Thurston Cook also reported having collected it the year before from “Albino Beach”. Curtis Gates Lloyddescribed Bovistoides simplexfrom a South African specimen in 1919, but in 1942, William Henry Longexamined that specimen and concluded that it was a weathered spore sac ofM. coliforme that had become detached from the outer star-shaped exoperidium. This conclusion was confirmed in a later study of the material.

Myriostoma had beenclassified in the familyGeastraceae until 1973, when British mycologist Donald Dring placed it in the Astraeaceae based on the presence of trabeculae (stout columns that extend from the peridium to the central core of the fruit body) in the gleba, and the absence of a true hymenium. In his 1989 monograph, Stellan Sunhede returned it to the Geastraceae. Molecularanalysis of DNA sequences has confirmed the traditional belief that Myriostoma andGeastrum are closely related.

Czech naturalist and mycologist Václav Jan Staněkproposed a varietycapillisporum in 1958,which has been sunk back into synonymy with the species. M. coliforme is the sole species in Myriostoma, making the genus monotypic. Because the original typematerial has been lost, in 1989 Sunhede suggested that Dickson’s illustration in his 1776 publication (tab. III: 4a & b) be used as the lectotype.

The specific epithet is derived from the Latin words colum, meaning “strainer”, and forma, meaning “shape”—Berkeley’svernacular name “Cullenden puff-ball” also refers to acolander. Gray called it the “sievelike pill-box”. The generic name is from theGreek words μυρίος, meaning “countless” and στόμα, meaning “mouth” (the source of the technical term stoma). The species is commonly known as the “salt-and-pepper shaker earthstar” or simply the “pepperpot”.


Brown spores can be seen on the surface of this fruit body.

The fruit bodies start their development underground or buried in leaf debris, linked to a strand of mycelium at the base. As they mature, the exoperidium (the outer tissue layer of the peridium) splits open into 7 to 14 rays which curve backward; this pushes the fruit body above thesubstrate. Fully opened specimens can reach dimensions of 2–12 cm (0.8–4.7 in) from ray tip to tip. The rays are of unequal size, with tips that often roll back inward. They comprise three distinct layers of tissue. The inner pseudoparenchymatous layer (so named for the resemblance to the tightly packed cells of plantparenchyma) is fleshy and thick when fresh, and initially pale beige but darkening to yellow or brown as it matures, often cracking and peeling off in the process. The exterior mycelial layer, often matted with fine leaf debris or dirt, usually cracks to reveal a middle fibrous layer, which is made of densely packedhyphae 1–2.5 μm wide. The base of the fruit body is concave to vaulted in shape, and often covered with adhering dirt. The roughly spherical spore sac (endoperidium) measures 1–5 cm (0.4–2.0 in) in diameter, and is supported by a cluster of short columns shaped like flattened spheres. It is gray-brown in color, and minutely roughened with small, lightly interconnected warts. There are several to many evenly dispersed mouths, theostioles, mainly on the upper half of the endoperidium. They are roughly circular withfimbriate edges. The inedible fruit bodies have no distinct taste, although dried specimens develop an odor resembling curry powder orbouillon cubes.

Like many earthstars, the fungus uses the force of falling raindrops to help disperse the spores, which are ejected in little bursts when objects (such as rain) strike the outer wall of the sporesac. The gleba is brown to grayish-brown, with a cotton-like texture that, when compressed, allows the endoperidium to flex quickly and create a puff of air that is forced out through the ostioles. This generates a cloud of spores that can then be carried by the wind.There are columellae (sterile structures that start at the base of the gleba and extend through it), which are usually not evident in the mature gleba, but apparent at the base of the spore sac. The columellae are not connected to the ostioles, but rather, terminate within the gleba at some distance from them. The capillitia (sterile strands within the gleba) are long, slender, free, tapering, unbranched, and 2–5 μm thick, with thickened walls. The spores are spherical,nonamyloid, and are ornamented with irregularly shaped flaring protuberances up to 2 μm high. They measure 3.9–4.8 μm in diameter (without ornamentation), and 5.4–7.0 μm including the ornamentation.

Similar species

Myriostoma coliforme is a distinctive species easily characterized by its size—being the largest earthstar fungus—as well as the multiple openings on its spore sack and stalk supporting the sack. Historically, it was thought that the holes might have been a result of insects. This was discussed and rejected by Thomas Jenkinson Woodward in 1797:

It has been doubted whether these mouths might not be accidental, and formed by insects after the expansion of the plant. But this (not to mention their regularity, and that each is furrowed by its border of ciliae) is clearly disproved, from the marks of the projections formed by the mouths being seen on the expanded rays, when freshly opened … I have likewise found an abortive plant, in which the seed did not ripen; but which had numerous projecting papillae on the head, where the mouths should have been formed.

Habitat and distribution

Myriostoma is a saprobic species.

Myriostoma is saprobic, deriving nutrients from decomposing organic matter. Fruit bodies grow grouped in well-drained or sandy soil, often in the partial shade of trees. The species occurs in deciduous forests andmixed forests, gardens, along hedges and grassy road banks, and grazed grasslands. In the Northern Hemisphere, it tends to grow on well-drained south-facing slopes, while it prefers a similar habitat on north-facing slopes in Australia. In Europe, its major habitat is riparian mixed forests dominated by Salix alba and Populus alba along the great rivers. In Hawaii, it has been collected at elevations above 2,000 m (6,600 ft) where it appears to favor the mamame (Sophora chrysophylla) forest.

The species is widespread, being known in its natural habitat from all five continents, but is not found in abundance.Myriostoma coliforme is rare in Europe, where it appears on the Regional Red Lists of 12 countries, and is one of 33 candidate species for listing in Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (the “Bern Convention”). Although originally described from England, it was considered extinct in mainland Britain until it was found again inSuffolk in 2006 near Ipswich, one of its original localities—it had been last reported in the country in 1880. The fungus is considered extinct in Switzerland. Its most northerly location is southern Sweden, although it is generally rare in northern Europe. It is similarly widespread but rarely encountered in North America, although there may be isolated localities, like New Mexico, where it is more abundant. In Australia, where its range is limited to the central New South Walescoast, it may have beenintroduced from exotic plant material.


  1. Neither the family nor theorder (Sclerodermatales) that Dring placed it in are recognized anymore: Astraeusis a member ofDiplocystaceae and Sclerodermatales is a synonym of Boletales.
  2. Scanning electron microscopy images of the spores can be viewed on page 256 of Suarez and Wright (1999).
  3. European countries and territories in which M. coliforme has been recorded include Bulgaria, theChannel Islands,Czechoslovakia, France,Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland,Portugal, Spain, Turkey,and Ukraine. It has also been found in the Canary Islands, Morocco (in theMamora forest), and in South Africa. In South America the fungus has been collected in the Galapagos Islands, Argentina,Brazil, and Chile. The North American distribution ranges from Canada to Mexico (Los Ajos-Bavispe National Forest Reserve).In the Middle East, it has been found in Afghanistan,Israel, and Iran. It is also known from Australia (where it may be an introduced species), China, and India.


More information: Tap to expand …

Cited texts

  • Kirk PM, Cannon PF, Minter DW, Stalpers JA (2008). Dictionary of the Fungi(10th ed.). Wallingford, UK: CAB International. ISBN 978-0-85199-826-8.

Watch “Immortal Music: Schubert Piano Quintet D667/The Trout/Jacqueline du Pré, Barenboim, Perlman, Pinchas” on YouTube

Most California sheriffs fiercely opposed the ‘sanctuary state’ law. Soon they’ll have to implement it – LA Times


Sheriff’s deputy Lee Lee looks over a holding block inside the Fresno County jail. (Gary Kazanjian / For The Times)
By Jazmine Ulloa Contact Reporter

Two years ago, as others in California were limiting cooperation with federal immigration agents, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department welcomed them into its jail.

Sheriff Margaret Mims gave U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unrestricted access to databases and private rooms to interview inmates. She reorganized release times so agents could easily pick up people who had served their sentences.

The policy sparked outrage among immigrant rights groups, who called it a pipeline from incarceration to immigrant detention, one that they said disproportionately and unfairly affects Latinos.

“We are not anti-immigrant for working with ICE,” Mims said in defense of the approach. “We are anti-criminal activity.”

That belief is held by many of California’s 58 county sheriffs who will be on the front lines of implementing the landmark “sanctuary state” law, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed last month. It takes effect on Jan. 1.

Senate Bill 54 was introduced as a sharp rebuke from Democrats to President Trump’s call for more deportations. It is designed to limit the people that California law enforcement agencies can detain, question or investigate at the request of federal immigration officials. But its impact will largely rely on county sheriffs whose departments play a vital role in immigration enforcement — and most of whom, like Mims, were opposed to SB 54.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims is one of many county sheriffs opposed to the “sanctuary state” law that will soon be implemented.
Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims is one of many county sheriffs opposed to the “sanctuary state” law that will soon be implemented. Gary Kazanjian / For The Times
As keepers of jails across the state, sheriffs will retain control over who has access to the citizenship status of hundreds of thousands of people booked into their facilities every day. As elected officials, many represent conservative or rural areas, where voters might be more likely to oppose the new state law.

Sheriffs could also be subject to direct attacks from the Trump administration, which has threatened to slash federal funds from “sanctuary cities,” jurisdictions where local officials have passed ordinances and regulations limiting interactions between law enforcement and immigration agencies.

Trump built much of his campaign on anti-immigrant sentiment, showcasing the relatives of people killed by immigrants in the country illegally. His appointees have suggested illegal immigration is tied to increases in violent crime, though studies show immigrants generally commit fewer crimes than U.S. citizens.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has called SB 54 “unconscionable.” Thomas Homan, the president’s ICE director, has said his agency “would have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at work sites,” prompting some in California’s congressional delegation to request a meeting with Homan over his “reprehensible” comments.

In an opposition letter penned in March, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens saw the conflict coming, saying SB 54 would put sheriffs like her in “an unenviable position.”

a look inside a jail holding block at the Fresno Couty Jail. (Gary Kazanjian / For the Times)

Sheriff deputy Alicia Perez books a prisoner at the Fresno County Jail. (Gary Kazanjian / For the Times)

Sheriff deputy Joshua Anderson prepares a prisoner for booking at the Fresno jail facility. (Gary Kazanjian / For the Times)
Though Trump has added new fuel to the debate, clashes between sheriffs and lawmakers over immigration enforcement have long existed in California, where previous legislative efforts to protect more than 2.3 million people living here illegally have sought to disentangle state and local law enforcement and federal immigration forces.

In 2014, the Trust Act prohibited law enforcement officials from holding immigrants past their release dates unless they have been convicted of one of roughly 800 crimes. The California Truth Act, which went into effect in January, requires officers to provide immigrant defendants notice of their rights prior to any ICE interviews.

The new ”sanctuary state” law was introduced to build on those laws. Officially dubbed the “California Values Act,” it will largely prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using personnel or funding to hold, question or share information about people with federal immigration agents unless they have been convicted of one or more offenses listed in the Trust Act.

Some sheriffs said the new law is unlikely to change the day-to-day work of deputies, who don’t question victims or witnesses about their immigration status while on patrol.

But unlike some city and campus police chiefs who threw their support behind SB 54, at least 40 of the 58 sheriffs in the state remained staunch opponents of the legislation through its passage. At least two — Jim McDonnell of Los Angeles County and Scott Jones of Sacramento County — drew protests for lobbying against it.

Now, they will be tasked with crafting new policies and training officers to limit their communication with ICE. Their agencies will also have to gather new statistics on the arrests made by task forces and on the people they transfer to immigration officials, reporting requirements under the law that are designed to provide insight into who is being swept up in the federal immigration dragnet.

Until now, counties have taken various positions when it comes to cooperation with ICE.

In San Francisco, for example, County Sheriff Vicki Hennessy filed a declaration in support of the city in its lawsuit against the Trump administration’s crackdown on “sanctuary city” policies. In accordance with the city’s laws, she wrote, the department maintains policies that limit notifying immigration officials on inmates’ release dates.

But in Orange County, Hutchens has a $7.27-million contract to incarcerate immigrant detainees convicted of crimes, as well as a $22-million annual lease to provide ICE with jail beds. Other sheriffs have granted federal immigration agents assistance behind the scenes. In L.A., McDonnell allowed them to set up an office with computers that provided information on released prisoners, according to a report released last month by an independent inspector.

In light of the new law, a statewide coalition of immigrant rights groups is already at work reaching out to sheriffs and drafting model policies of their own in hopes of creating parity among counties. Whether the new law can compel a cultural shift within departments will be up to sheriffs, advocates said.

“There is the letter of the law and specific things that the law states officers can or can’t do,” said Joseph Tomás Mckellar, co-director of PICO California, a faith-based community-organizing network. “But there is also the spirit of the law, which is, ‘Can we begin to look at immigrants differently?’ To see them as full human beings that can and do rehabilitate.”

A sheriff’s deputy prepares a prisoner for booking at the Fresno jail facility.
A sheriff’s deputy prepares a prisoner for booking at the Fresno jail facility. Gary Kazanjian / For The Times
In Fresno, where City Council leaders voted down a plan to provide legal services for immigrants and where former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, accused of racial profiling of Latinos, recently made an appearance at a GOP fundraiser, deputies and ICE officials have a closer working relationship.

Here, Mims has gone from being a registered Democrat to a Republican and has publicly quarreled with Brown over what she calls the Democratic Party’s hostility toward law enforcement issues, including gun rights and recent ballot measures to revamp the criminal justice system.

She also has been locked in battles with immigration advocates over the jail access she allows ICE, feuds that precede the election of Trump.

In September 2014, an Oregon federal court ruling prompted hundreds of cities and counties nationwide to stop holding inmates for immigration officials past their release dates, which had been permitted under a 2008 program by the Obama administration. After she heard the decision, Mims said she walked over to ICE’s nearby office in downtown Fresno to discuss ways they could continue their collaboration.

The meeting resulted in temporary work space for immigration agents at her jail, which holds about 25,000 to 30,000 people annually, and a restructuring of inmate release times that she won’t have to change under the new “sanctuary state” law.

Mims said her department is once more looking for ways to increase its collaboration with ICE in the wake of new communication restrictions.

“If ICE can’t do their job in a local, safe, controlled environment, they are going to put together teams, and they are going to go out into our communities,” she said. “I don’t think people are going to like the unintended consequences.”

Times reporter Mina Corpuz contributed to this report.




California becomes ‘sanctuary state’ in rebuke of Trump immigration policy

How California’s Trust Act shaped the debate on the new ‘sanctuary state’ proposal

Sacramento’s sheriff asked Trump’s immigration chief for help fighting California’s ‘sanctuary state’ bill

Updates on California politics

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

California lawmakers approve landmark ‘sanctuary state’ bill to expand protections for immigrants – LA Times


a lawmakers on Saturday passed a “sanctuary state” bill to protect immigrants without legal residency in the U.S., part of a broader push by Democrats to counter expanded deportation orders under the Trump administration.

The legislation by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the most far-reaching of its kind in the country, would limit state and local law enforcement communication with federal immigration authorities, and prevent officers from questioning and holding people on immigration violations.

Watch “Phil Collins – One More Night (with lyrics)” on YouTube

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday: Watch “W. A. Mozart – KV 65 (61a) – Missa brevis in D minor” on YouTube


  • Kyrie (0:00)
  • Gloria (1:50)
  • Credo (4:24)
  • Sanctus (9:39)
  • Benedictus (10:33)
  • Agnus Dei (11:50)

Composed in Salzburg and dated January 14, 1769. First performed on February 5, 1769 at the Salzburg University church.


Performers: Angela Maria Blasi, soprano; Elisabeth von Magnus, alto; Uwe Heilmann, tenor; Franz-Josef Selig, bass; Arnold Schoenberg Chor; Concentus Musicus, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday: Watch “TE DEUM – W. A. MOZART” on YouTube

France 24 :  Tens of thousands join far-right march on Poland’s Independence Day

Tens of thousands join far-right march on Poland’s Independence Day

Tens of thousands of nationalists marched in a demonstration organised by far-right groups in Warsaw Saturday, as Poles celebrated their country’s Independence Day.


The far-right march was one of many events marking Poland‘s rebirth as a nation in 1918 after being wiped off the map for 123 years. Earlier in the day, President Andrzej Duda presided over state ceremonies also attended by European Union president Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister.

But the march has become the largest Independence Day event in recent years, overshadowing official state observances and other patriotic events. Some participants expressed sympathy for xenophobic or white supremacist ideas, with one banner reading, “White Europe of brotherly nations.” A participant who was interviewed on state television station TVP said he was taking part “to remove Jewry from power.”

‘We Want God’

Participants marched under the slogan “We Want God,” words from an old Polish religious song that President Donald Trump quoted from during a visit to Warsaw earlier this year. Speakers spoke of standing against liberals and defending Christian values.

Many carried the national white-and-red flag as others set off flares and firecrackers, filling the air with red smoke. Some also carried banners depicting a falanga, a far-right symbol dating to the 1930s.

Police estimated that 60,000 people took part.

The march has become one of the largest such demonstration in Europe, and on Saturday it drew far-right leaders from elsewhere in Europe, including Tommy Robinson from Britain and Roberto Fiore from Italy.

While the conservative ruling party was not involved in the march, TVP, the state broadcaster, called the event a “great march of patriots.”

A smaller counter-protest by an anti-fascist movement also took place. Organisers were keeping the two groups apart to prevent violence.

Independence Day marks Poland regaining its sovereignty at the end of World War I after being partitioned and ruled since the late 18th century by Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Duda oversaw ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, walking past a military guard before the raising of the flags and cannon salutes. After delivering a speech he took part in a wreath-laying ceremony, praying and crossing himself at the monument to all unknown soldiers killed fighting for the country.

Tusk, who attended at Duda’s invitation, also paid his respects at the monument.

Ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski noted that Poland has not always been fully independent since 1918, a reference to Germany’s occupation during World War II and the decades spent under Moscow’s direction during the Cold War.

Still, he said: “The Polish state was internationally recognised the whole time and that is a great achievement.”


France 24 :  Lebanon president says Saudi Arabia should explain why ex-PM Hariri hasn’t returned

Lebanon president says Saudi Arabia should explain why ex-PM Hariri hasn’t returned

Lebanon’s president called on Riyadh Saturday to clarify the reasons why the country’s prime minister has not returned home since his resignation last week, which he announced from Saudi Arabia.


This comes as the United States and France expressed their support the same day for Lebanon’s sovereignty and stability amid heightening tensions between Beirut and Saudi Arabia.
A political crisis has gripped Lebanon and shattered the relative peace maintained by its coalition government since Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s stunning announcement Nov. 4 from the Saudi capital that he was resigning.
Lebanese officials have insisted on the return home of Hariri from Saudi Arabia amid rumors he is being held against his will. Saudi officials have said that their measures against Lebanon are in response to the militant Hezbollah’s group support of anti-Saudi rebels in Yemen known as Houthis.

‘The obscurity regarding Hariri’s position’
Lebanese President Michel Aoun called on Saudi Arabia to clarify why Hariri hasn’t returned home since announcing his resignation saying that “the obscurity regarding Hariri’s conditions makes anything that he says or does not reflect truth.” It was an indication that Aoun does not recognize Hariri’s resignation.
In statements released by his office, Aoun called on Saudi Arabia “that is linked to us through deep brotherly and friendly relations to clarify the reasons that are preventing” Hariri from returning to Lebanon.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Washington calls upon “all states and parties to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence, and constitutional processes.”
Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan warned earlier this month that his government would deal with Lebanon as a hostile state as long as Hezbollah was in the Lebanese government. The Lebanese unity government that Hariri formed a year ago includes Hezbollah members the result of a tacit Saudi-Iranian agreement to sideline Lebanon from the other proxy wars in the region.
Al-Sabhan blasted in a tweet late Saturday as laughable those expressing support and “love” for Hariri despite their previous opposition to him. He added that those who “sold out” Lebanon would soon be exposed.
“In this sensitive time, the United States also rejects any efforts by militias within Lebanon or by any foreign forces to threaten Lebanon’s stability, undermine Lebanese government institutions, or use Lebanon as a base from which to threaten others in the region,” Sanders said. She was apparently referring to Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia.
‘A trusted partner of the United States’
Sanders described Hariri as “a trusted partner of the United States in strengthening Lebanese institutions, fighting terrorism, and protecting refugees.” Sanders said the Lebanese army and security forces are the only legitimate forces in Lebanon.
Also Saturday, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that French President Emmanuel Macron called Aoun expressing France’s commitment to Lebanon’s “unity, sovereignty and independence and to help it in preserving political and security stability.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saudi Arabia is aiming to create unrest in Lebanon after doing so in the Gulf region and Yemen. Bahram Qasemi said in comments carried by state news agency IRNA that the kingdom is trying to destabilize the region.
Aoun said that a Marathon planned in Beirut on Sunday in which tens of thousands will participate should be “a national sports demonstration for solidarity with prime minister Hariri and his return to his country.”
Last year Hariri took part in the marathon, wearing the number 3.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)

France 24 :  New mass graves holding hundreds of IS group victims found in Iraq

New mass graves holding hundreds of IS group victims found in Iraq

Mass graves containing at least 400 suspected Islamic State group victims have been found near the former jihadist bastion of Hawija in northern Iraq, the regional governor said Saturday.


The string of grisly discoveries was made at a military base around three kilometres (two miles) from the city that the jihadists “turned into an execution ground”, said Kirkuk governor Rakan Said.

“Not less than 400 people were executed,” he said, adding that some were clad in the uniform of prisoners condemned to death while others wore civilian clothing.

IS was forced out of Hawija — 240 kilometres north of Baghdad — by Iraqi forces in October in a sweeping offensive that has seen the group lose the vast bulk of territory it seized in 2014.

As government troops have advanced across Iraq they have uncovered dozens of mass graves holding hundreds of bodies in areas that fell under the jihadists’ brutal rule.

The burial pits near Hawija were discovered “thanks to witness accounts from local residents” given to the Iraqi military, General Mortada al-Luwaibi said.

Saad Abbas, a farmer from the area, told AFP that during the three years of IS control the group’s fighters could be seen “driving around in cars with their prisoners”.

“They would shoot them and then throw them to the ground or burn their bodies,” Abbas said.


France 24 :  MEDays Forum attempts to decipher Trump’s stance toward the Islamic world

MEDays Forum attempts to decipher Trump’s stance toward the Islamic world

US President Donald Trump embraces Saudi Arabia but at the same time bans many Muslims from coming to the US. For some in the Islamic world Trump’s policies are confounding, which prompted an expert panel at the MEDays forum to try to unpack them.


Titled “USA-Islamic World: Facing the Game of Trump,” the experts and officialsassembled Saturday morning in Tangier, Morocco, presented theories about the ever-unclear Trump policies toward the Islamic world. They presented as part of the MEDays forum, an annual gathering of political, business and social leaders from Mediterranean, Arab and African nations.

The panelists all seemed to concur with former Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa’s contention that after the end of the Cold War the US was in search of a new enemy. He pointed to American political scientist Samuel Huntington’s controversial but highly influential book, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” as a critical reason that enemy became Islam.

So the tensions between the US and the Arab world predate Trump, Moussa said. What is new is the utter confusion over the inconsistencies between his oft-contradictory statements and his policies, he said.

Mohamed Mohamedou, Professor of International History at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and a former foreign minister of Mauritania said that, while the roots of Trump’s policies lie in history, “he is taking us into different, novel and most problematic terrain.”

That terrain, plainly stated, is racist and discriminatory in which Trump stigmatizes an entire religion, Mohamedou said. The Muslim ban is “equivalent to a yellow star these days,” he said.

Other panelists highlighted the disorder that has been wrought in the region by American policies and actions some more darkly than others. Sameera bin Rajab, Special Envoy for the Royal Court of Bahrain, noted that US policies have resulted in a reality in the region that doesn’t serve the interests of any of the local states.

Bin Rajab pointed to strategic US initiatives that resulted in the formation of terror groups, and to wars started by the US that left the countries they were waged in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, for example in utter disarray. Iraq is significantly worse off in terms of its economy, its educational system and its social structure than it was before the war, she noted. These nations were “pushed into failure,” she said.

Under Trump the US is playing a role in cultivating new confrontations in the region, such as those involving Saudi Arabia. “The [powers] of the region are opposing each other, but not for their own interest,” she said.

To combat that, Islamic nations must identify themselves as states first, and not as Sunni or Shia, Moussa said. Otherwise, “we’re playing in the field that they want us to,” he said.

At its base, the US policy in the region is “Israel First,” said Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian government official and current scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Today, Saudi Arabia and Iran are the two major forces in the region with Israel “sitting between them.”

“I believe this trajectory also will bring a lot of changes to the region because now Israel has been successful not to bring only the US on board but some Muslim countries on board to fight Muslim countries,” Mousavian said. “What’s more, Trump has escalated the sale of arms to the region for US financial gain,” Mousavian said.

Olivier Kempf, a researcher at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (ISIS) said that under Trump, that DC-Riyadh-Tel Aviv was becoming the new decision-making axis.

But some of the speakers noted that the Islamic world bears some responsibility for its current state. “There is no coherence, no mutual support, between our regimes,” said Hasni Abidi, director of The Center for Studies and Research on the Mediterranean and Arab World (CERMAM). “President Trump knows he is talking to weak interlocutors.”

La distanza tra volere e potere si riduce in una sola parola:Tentare! Cit.

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La distanza tra volere e potere si riduce in una sola parola:Tentare!


Watch “Turn to Stone – Ingrid Michaelson” on YouTube


Ingrid Michaelson Lyrics

“Turn To Stone”

Let’s take a better look
beyond a story book
And learn our souls are all we own
before we turn to stone

Let’s go to sleep with clearer heads
and hearts too big to fit our beds
And maybe we won’t feel so alone
before we turn to stone

And if you wait for someone else’s hand,
(If you wait for someone else’s hand)
Then you will surely fall down
(If you wait for someone else’s hand)
And if you wait for someone else’s hand,
(If you wait for someone else)
You’ll fall, you’ll fall

I know that I am nothing new
There’s so much more than me and you
But brother, how we must atone
before we turn to stone

And brother, how we must atone
before we turn to stone