How Alex Acosta Got Away With It for So Long

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SLATE NEWS)

 

How Alex Acosta Got Away With It for So Long

The only way the labor secretary could give Jeffrey Epstein that 2008 plea deal is by ignoring victims.

Acosta standing with both hands on a podium, three American flags behind him.
Alexander Acosta at a press conference at the Department of Labor on Wednesday.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Back in 2008, when Alex Acosta was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, his office secretly cut a sweetheart deal for child rapist and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Now Acosta has been watching as increasingly damning evidence piles up, revealing that he was responsible for letting Epstein off the hook the first time around, and filters into the public consciousness. So he took a page from Donald Trump’s sexual assault impunity playbook at a press conference on Wednesday and denied any responsibility for any of his actions, refused to apologize to hundreds of victims who were children at the time, and instead blamed everyone from state prosecutors to the victims themselves. On Friday morning, he resigned as secretary of labor, but it hardly seems like enough.

Thanks to dogged reporting from Julie K. Brown at the Miami Herald, we know that a 53-page indictment drafted by Acosta’s own office was based on the statements of dozens of victims, and yet Acosta still brokered a plea deal allowing Epstein to register as a sex offender and spend just 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail. Epstein was allowed to be picked up by a car on 12 hours of daily work release from the prison, six days a week. A Florida judge ruled earlier this year that the non-prosecution agreement violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act because the witnesses were never consulted or informed that it had happened.

Epstein was charged Monday, by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, with running a sex trafficking operation. A search of his home revealed hundreds if not thousands of images of naked women, and, according to federal authorities, “some of the nude or partially-nude photographs appear to be of underage girls.” New York authorities specifically credited the Miami Herald, which has surfaced many other questionable details about the case, with helping lead them to new evidence. On Tuesday another woman came forward with allegations that she had been raped by Epstein as a teenager: Jennifer Araoz told NBC News that she was approached at age 14 in 2001 by a woman who took her to Epstein’s home where she was paid to give him massages in her underwear, and that he raped her when she was 15.

Acosta’s tactic Wednesday consisted of blaming state prosecutors first, and the victims second. His claim is that he’s actually a good guy, because when the state authorities decided to pursue charges that would have failed to result in jail time, his office stepped in to press for a more draconian sanction. “Simply put, the Palm Beach state attorney’s office was willing to let Epstein walk free, no jail time, nothing,” he said. “We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail.” The deal had Epstein plead guilty to two state prostitution charges, resulting in the jail time and sex offender registration, though he also had to pay restitution to the victims.

Acosta’s version of the story has a million problems. Barry Krischer, Palm Beach state attorney at the time, immediately lit into Acosta for trying to “rewrite history” by blaming state authorities. “I can emphatically state that Mr. Acosta’s recollection of this matter is completely wrong,” Krischer told the New York Times. “No matter how my office resolved the state charges, the U.S. attorney’s office always had the ability to file its own federal charges. If Mr. Acosta was truly concerned with the state’s case and felt he had to rescue the matter, he would have moved forward with the 53-page indictment that his own office drafted.” Conveniently, each office has shifted the blame onto the other, so nobody bears any responsibility. Regardless, who gets to bring charges in such a case is never the sort of zero-sum turf battle either man is making it out to be—as former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade notes: “He could have allowed the state prosecutor to do whatever he wanted with the state case and still pursued his own separate federal charges. Sometimes prosecutors work cooperatively with state prosecutors to work out a global resolution when it is in their clients’ mutual interest, but it is certainly not required.” In other words, Acosta is pretending when he says he was jammed by state prosecutors.

Among Acosta’s most revealing claims were those about the absence of compelling evidence. It bears repeating that Brown, the Herald reporter, points out that Acosta had at his office’s disposal “36 girls who all told the same story, which is amazing.” The New York Times says there were 40 victims at the time the deal was struck. And as the Times further revealed, in a profile of Julie Brown, “Early in the process, she received a heavily redacted police report that was more than 100 pages long and mentioned more than 100 Jane Does.”

More than 100 Jane Does. As the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake points out, the new claim that Acosta had to agree to the sweetheart deal in order to prevent Epstein getting off for less is simply absurd. “Why did that decision have to be made right then and there?” Blake wrote. “If the evidence wasn’t there yet to be confident in a large-scale federal case, why not investigate further and hopefully uncover what federal prosecutors in New York revealed on Monday?” The new indictment includes ample evidence that had already been collected when the non-prosecution agreement was signed. When asked about this at his press conference, Acosta said other jurisdictions were free to pursue other investigations (and 10 years later New York did! See, the system works!) and that victims were also free to pursue civil remedies. (See, the system works!)

In point of fact, the system did work perfectly. To protect a child predator, that is. What you are witnessing here is Acosta seeking refuge in a country that allows jurisdictions to both point fingers at one another and reverse-engineer their own fact-finding to highlight only the smallest quantum of evidence. As was the case with the federal “investigations” into claims about White House chief of staff Rob Porter’s brutal and persistent battery of his partners, and Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct toward women, investigations are only as effective as the investigator’s willingness to lookAlex Acosta did not look very hard. Instead, Alex Acosta chose to sign a non-prosecution agreement around what he opted to see, which is what he wanted to see, which was close to nothing.

As important as Acosta’s willingness to blame state prosecutors is his willingness to avert his own eyes. Because the only way to have 100 Jane Doe interviews and a 53-page draft indictment and to still see so very, very little misconduct is to blame the victims themselves. And so, on Wednesday, Alex Acosta went on to do just that, as David Graham observed. In the single most grotesque moment in a wholly grotesque public event, Acosta, when asked what he’d tell Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, said this: “The message is you need to come forward. I heard this morning that another victim came forward and made horrendous, horrendous allegations, allegations that should never happen to any woman, much less a young girl. And as victims come forward, these cases can be brought and they can be brought by the federal government, they can be brought by state attorneys, and they will be brought.”

Acosta, who worked for a president who routinely claims that all sexual assault victims are solely in it for the money, went on to quote prosecutors in his office who described girls too terrified to come forward because they were scared of being shamed and trashed by defense counsel. As he said of a female prosecutor in his office, “She talks about the challenges faced, she talks about the victims being scared and traumatized, refusing to testify, and how some victims actually exonerated Epstein. Most had significant concerns about their identities being revealed. The acts that they had faced were horrible and they didn’t want people to know about them.” He added that the victims worried they would be disparaged for seeking monetary reparations—“and it became clear that they were going to receive money if he was convicted, how that would impeach their credibility”—buying into the Trumpist narrative that any accuser who ever accepts compensation could legitimately have their credibility questioned.

Taken in sum, Acosta seems to be saying that the real impediment to a just resolution is the unreliable and fickle victims, who are afraid the system won’t take them seriously (as he didn’t) and who are afraid of being talked about derisively (in precisely the ways he now does). As Adam Horowitz, a lawyer for seven of the victims, told the New York Times on Wednesday, the young women were indeed scared to testify—because the prosecutors themselves had terrified them. “The prosecutors were saying, ‘These defense lawyers are going to go through your whole personal life, dig up your bad acts and your sex life,’ ” Horowitz said. “When they heard that from prosecutors, sure they were intimidated. They kept saying, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ ”

Finally, Acosta posited that he is off the hook because life is significantly better for accusers in 2019. “We live in a very different world. Today’s world treats victims very, very differently. Today’s world does not allow some of the victim shaming that could have taken place at trial 12 years ago,” he urged. Apparently, Acosta has never heard of E. Jean Carroll, Christine Blasey Ford, or Summer Zervos, each of whom has been called a cash-seeking liar by the president of the United States, Acosta’s boss. He also falsely implied that the federal rules of evidence and the Crime Victims’ Rights Act either didn’t exist or didn’t preclude lawyers from “victim shaming” back in 2007, which is not true.

Anyway, to recap: Acosta arrived at the laughable 2008 agreement because he chose to ignore everything that could have been something. He did that by allowing the victims to be terrified and then blaming them for it, by creating an imaginary deadline by which he would have to close his investigation and finalize a deal, and by diffusing responsibility for bringing Epstein to justice among state authorities, civil litigation, other federal jurisdictions, and the victims themselves. Acosta’s entire mission is to push the blame outward, but in doing so, he has instead offered up a case study in institutional cowardice and complicity.

Just because we can blame Acosta does not mean it’s his fault alone. It’s a mistake to leave out the many, many other men who determined that they too had not seen enough evidence to act decisively, which includes Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter, who believed reporter Vicky Ward had amassed insufficient evidence of Epstein’s sexual depravity to keep it in a reported story in 2003, telling Politico, “In the end, we didn’t have confidence in Ward’s reporting. We were not in the habit of running away from a fight. But she simply didn’t have the goods.” It includes Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who allowed a prosecutor at a 2011 hearing to seek to reduce Epstein’s sex offender status to the lowest possible classification. It includes a system that, as the New York Post reports, ensured Epstein was permitted by the NYPD to skip every one of his court-mandated check-ins. It appears everyone evaluated all the evidence through their money-colored glasses.

And, as in any story about wealth and privilege and access, it also seems to come down to a trio of lawyers—all from Kirkland & Ellis, as Joe Conason notes—Kenneth Starr, Alex Acosta, and Jay Lefkowitz, who worked together to grease the skids for Epstein. As Lefkowitz, representing Epstein, memorialized in a 2007 letter, Acosta would not inform “any of the identified individuals, potential witnesses or potential civil claimants” against Epstein about the terms or existence of the sweetheart deal. That too, says Acosta, was done to protect … the victims.

So please. Just please. Stop saying victims don’t come forward. Stop saying you wish more of them would come forward. If you have not only not made it easier for them to do so, but have used your professional status and authority to make it far harder, you are lying when you say that. This is not just about Alex Acosta, or Bill Clinton, or Alan Dershowitz, or Donald Trump, or any one man. It’s not about Senate Republicans, who were evidently capable of feeling shame three years ago, but are wholly dead to it today. It is about entire hierarchies of wealth and invulnerability that first avoid looking at abused women and then insist it is their own fault they are invisible. As Rebecca Solnit aptly put it yesterday, “These men could not do what they did without a culture—lawyers, journalists, judges, friends—that protected them, valued them, devalued their victims and survivors. They do not act alone, and their might is nothing more or less than the way a system rewards and protects them, which is another definition of rape culture. That is, their impunity is not inherent; it’s something the society grants them and can take away.”

Decreasing that impunity would require making a choice, a rare choice, a choice that nobody seems to be making, to privilege abused women over powerful predators. Even as we swim in this sea of revealed abuse, consider the individual actors who, again and again, fail to make that choice. When you do, you don’t just see the results of their actions, you witness how they defend their inaction. It’s almost an art form now, and Alex Acosta is just the latest example of a man accused of wrongdoing who insists that everyone but himself is wrong. The Herald excoriated Acosta for failing to show “an ounce of sympathy for the vulnerable girls Epstein sexually exploited.” That’s perhaps because Acosta now lives in a world where all that matters is what the president thinks. This is where enablers of sexual predators end up when they enable new sexual predators.

If you can manage nothing else, pay attention only to this: Reports surfaced Wednesday via the Guardian that as labor secretary, Acosta proposed an 80 percent funding cut to a section of his own department known as the International Labor Affairs Bureau. That is the department that combats child sex trafficking. This administration is not just covering up for those who rape children and those who get away with raping children. They are making the rape of children invisible. They are ensuring that we can’t see it and we can’t investigate it, and before you know it, it will be as if it never even happened at all. And America’s child rape problem will have been “solved.”

Update, July 12, 2018: This piece has been updated to reflect Alex Acosta’s Friday resignation as secretary of labor.

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Brazil: “Where do you run when the anti-corruption crusaders are dirty?”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

(OPED: THIS IS AN EXAMPLE WHERE IT IS THE JUDGES AND THE PROSECUTORS ARE THE ONES WHO SHOULD RIGHT NOW BE ARRESTED AND THROWN UNDER THE PRISON WALLS)(oldpoet56) 

NYT: “Where do you run when the anti-corruption crusaders are dirty?”

One of the world’s leading newspapers, The New York Times states that “the leaked messages show that Moro often overstepped his role as a judge”; “The leaks reveal an immoral judge, who joined prosecutors in order to arrest and convict individuals who already considered guilty,” criticizes

(Photo: Reproduction | Gustavo Bezerra)

247 – One of the leading newspapers in the world, The New York Times states that “the leaked messages showed that Moro often exceeded his role of judge – someone who should be impartial and prejudice-free – to act as consigliere [counselor] the accusation” . “The leaks reveal an immoral judge, who joined prosecutors to arrest and convict individuals they already considered guilty,” he criticized.

“He offered strategic advice to prosecutors: they should, for example, reverse the order of the various phases of the investigation, review specific motions they planned to file, accelerate certain processes, slow down many others. rebuked prosecutors when they were too late to carry out further attacks, endorsed or disapproved of their tactics, and provided them with early knowledge of their decisions, “the report said .

The newspaper continues, stating that “Moro became involved in press coverage issues and was concerned about getting public support for the prosecution.” “‘What do you think of these crazy statements from the PT national committee? Should we officially refute?’ He once asked federal prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, referring to a statement by the Lula Workers’ Party in which the accusation was considered a political persecution. Note the use of the word ‘we’ – as if Mr Moro and Mr. Dallagnol were on the same team, “adds the NYT.

“All this is, of course, highly immoral – if not totally illegal. It violates nothing less than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says: ‘Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. “According to the Brazilian Criminal Procedure Code, judges must be neutral arbitrators and can not give advice to either party in a case. violated many provisions of the Brazilian Code of Judicial Ethics, particularly one that says that the judge must maintain “an equivalent distance from the parties,” avoiding any kind of behavior that may reflect ‘favoritism, predisposition or prejudice’.

Mexico Had Agreed To These ‘New’ Measures Months Ago

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN AND THE NEW YORK TIMES)
(THE FRAUD IN CHIEF STRIKES AGAIN, CREATE A PROBLEM, DO NOTHING, THEN FIX THE PROBLEM AND TAKE CREDIT FOR HIS ‘GREAT WORK’, TOTAL FRAUD!)(oped: oldpoet56)

Mexico had already promised to take many of the actions agreed to in Friday’s immigration deal with the US — months before President Donald Trump’s tariff threat, officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations told the New York Times in a story published Saturday.

Trump moved to accept the existing agreements in a deal Friday after negotiations prompted by his threat to impose growing tariffs on Mexico in response to the border situation dragged on over several days. Talks between Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and State Department officials lasted for more than 11 hours Friday.
The Mexican government had pledged to deploy the National Guard nationwide with a focus on its southern border — a key part of Friday’s agreement — during secret meetings in March between former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Mexican interior secretary Olga Sanchez in Miami, the officials told the Times.
The deal’s key expansion of a program that would keep asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed was established in two heavily brokered two diplomatic notes exchanged between the two countries, the Times reported. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in late December.
One senior government official insisted to the Times that the Mexican government agreed to move to deter migrants faster and more aggressively than they ever had before this week’s talks.
As Ebrard noted in a news conference after the agreement’s announcement Friday, the Mexican government did not accept the US’s push for a safe third country agreement, which would require asylum seekers traveling through Mexico to make their case for American asylum in Mexico.
“They proposed in the first meeting to have (a) third safe state, which is not the case here, which is very important. And on the other hand, we accepted to have a more extended version of (migrants remaining in Mexico during asylum claim processing) and to accelerate the deployment of the national guard,” Ebrard said, calling the deal “a fair play.”
Trump presented the deal as a win in a pair of tweets early Saturday.
“Mexico will try very hard, and if they do that, this will be a very successful agreement for both the United States and Mexico!” the President wrote in a tweet. He continued later: “MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Saturday that he had a phone call with Trump after negotiators reached a deal Friday.
“I spoke on the telephone with President Trump,” Lopez Obrador tweeted in Spanish on Saturday. “I told him that in Tijuana I would say that I do not lift a clenched fist but an open and frank hand to the president of the United States. We reiterated our disposition to friendship, dialogue and collaboration for the good of our countries.”
Democratic congressional leaders slammed Trump for his attempts to negotiate a deal.
Senate Majority Chuck Schumer jabbed Trump’s repeated return to the issue, tweeting Friday night: “This is an historic night! @realDonaldTrump has announced that he has cut a deal to ‘greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States.’ Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”
On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump in a statement of having “undermined America’s preeminent leadership role in the world by recklessly threatening to impose tariffs on our close friend and neighbor to the south.”
Congress, she said, will hold the White House “accountable for its failures to address the humanitarian situation at our southern border.”

My Gripe About Georgetown University ‘Slave Reparations’ Being Charged To Students

My Gripe About Georgetown University ‘Slave Reparations’ Being Charged To Students

 

Earlier this evening I read an article on the web site of ‘Newsone’ along with that of CBS and the New York TImes about an event going on at Georgetown University that I personally am not in favor of. Back in the year 1838 the University was deep in debt and the Jesuit Priest who was in charge of the University at the time sold 272 slaves (Black Folks) to a Louisiana Plantation which gave the University the means in which to pay off their debt. There are a lot of people who say they are descendants of these 272 former slaves alive today who say that the University should have to pay these descendants $1 billion in “reparations,” what do you think about this issue?

 

Here is my take on this issue. It is said that the University has a $1.5 billion endowment fund that the University could supposedly access if they so chose to do so. So, if this is true should the University by either choice or by law take a billion dollars from that fund and use it to pay this to the descendents of those 272 slaves? My belief is that the University can pay it if they choose to, its their money, not mine, yet I do not believe that they should in any way be forced to do so. The University (in my opinion) pulled a total B.S. move when it came to this issue, they totally passed the proverbial buck completely onto the current and future students at the School. The University had the students vote on whether to pay the ‘reparations’ cost via a $27.20 added fee to every student every semester. The voter turnout was said to be %58 and that %66 of those who did vote said yes but now it seems that a lot of the Black students feel that they shouldn’t have to pay it. Seems like some voted yes with the belief that they themselves would be/should be exempt. Should they be? I don’t know, do you?

 

To give you more information to help you with your decision I offer you the main reason that I said no and still do to the University paying these descendents one billion dollars. Via the information from CBS News and the New York Times if you took the amount the University received for those 272 slaves and computed it into today’s currency the amount would be $3.5 Million, not one Billion. So, my opinion is that the University shouldn’t “have” to pay the descendents anything as the event was 181 years ago, at least a minimum of nine generations ago. If this type of thing became a law that they had to pay for this then I believe that every White, Black and Asian person in the U.S. today should have to leave this Country right now, no if and or but about it. Why would I say such a ridiculous thing you may think yet my answer is simple, they are called Indians or NATIVE AMERICANS! Should not everything be turned over to the “Red Man” who settled here first? There is one thing that I do believe though and that is if the University were to be forced by law to pay these reparations that the amount should not be more than the $3.5 million I mentioned earlier.

 

Now, for the last part of this article, a new twist for you to consider which might help you in your decision-making. Just as I was setting down to write this article to you I came across an article in “Teen Vogue” about this very issue and I would like to share some of their words with you. First in their article they said that the amount in today’s dollars would equal $3.3 Million instead of the aforementioned $3.5 Million. Their article also stated that the University says the amount collected each year would be about $380,000. Their article also stated the following which is a quote. “The money would go toward the education and health care programs in Louisiana and Maryland where according to the New York Times many of the 4,000 known living descendents of those slaves live today.” Personally I don’t have any problem with that program accept that I do not believe that the current and future students should have to pay that bill. If anyone was to be “forced” to pay out that $380,000 dollars per year it should have to be the University but I do not believe that any law should ever force them to have to pay that. The biggest reason for me saying this the fact that in 1838 slavery was legal in this country and by the laws of the time the University did not do anything legally wrong in selling their slaves. There is nothing about slavery that I agree with, the laws of the land at that time were wrong and thank the Lord they were changed. Yet when a person or business does not break the law in their actions the law should NEVER be allowed to punish descendents by making them pay for the LEGAL actions of their descendents.

 

 

In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many and a Dilemma for Reporters

A woman in the poor mountain village of Al Juberia, Yemen.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image
A woman in the poor mountain village of Al Juberia, Yemen. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

SANA, Yemen — At a restaurant in the Yemeni capital, Sana, a waiter brought bowls of slow-cooked lamb served with mounds of rice. For dessert there was kunafa, the classic Arab dish of golden brown pastry filled with cheese.

An hour later I was back at work, in a hushed hospital ward filled with malnourished children with skeletal faces, hanging between life and death for want of money and a good meal.

If that juxtaposition strikes you as jarring, even distasteful, it felt that way to me, too.

Crisis zones are often places of stark contrast, but in Yemen the gulf is particularly uncomfortable. The problem isn’t a lack of food; it’s that few people can afford to buy what food is available.

Years of blockades, bombs and soaring inflation have crushed the economy. A crushed state means there is no safety net.

As a result, beggars congregate outside supermarkets filled with goods; markets are filled with produce in towns where the hungry eat boiled leaves; and restaurants selling rich food are a few hundred yards from hunger wards filled with desperation, pain and death.

For a reporter, that brings a dilemma. Journalists travel with bundles of hard currency, usually dollars, to pay for hotels, transport and translation. A small fraction of that cash might go a long way for a starving family. Should I pause, put down my notebook and offer to help?

It’s a question some readers asked after we published a recent article on Yemen’s looming famine.

Many were touched by a powerful photograph by Tyler Hicks of Amal Hussain, an emaciated 7-year-old girl whose haunting stare brought the war’s human cost into shocking focus.

And many were devastated to learn that, soon after we left, Amal’s mother brought her back to the shabby refugee camp they call home, where she died a few days later.

Amal Hussain, who died at age 7 from malnutrition soon after this photograph was taken.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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Amal Hussain, who died at age 7 from malnutrition soon after this photograph was taken.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Some, in their anguish, turned the focus back on us.

Why didn’t we do something to save Amal’s life, they wanted to know. Did we just take the photo, conduct the interview and move on? Couldn’t we have somehow ensured that her family would get help?

“You can take the picture AND provide assistance,” one woman said on Twitter. “One doesn’t rule out the other.”

The questions resonated. Reporters are trained to bear witness; aid workers and doctors have the job of helping people.

Donating money, or other forms of assistance, can be fraught with ethical, moral and practical complications. Is it fair to single out one person or family for help? What if they embellish their story for the next foreigner who comes along, thinking they could get more money?

Plus, we have a job to do.

Doctors show us around, and sometimes we end up acting like them — examining stick-like limbs and flaccid skin with clinical detachment; tabulating figures about weight and age; listening as families recount their tragedies with amazing calm. The prospect of death is discussed. We nod sagely, make a note, move on.

But while we may try to mimic a stone, we are not stones, and every day in Yemen someone told me something that made a lump rise in my throat.

COMMENT OF THE MOMENT

Sandra commented November 30

Sandra
Times Pick

Let’s cut to the chase and get the U.N. and it’s agencies in there. Just do it. The USA should be spear heading the effort. War between armies is one thing. War on starving people is quite another….no grey area! NONE!

SEE MORE

Usually it was a mundane detail, like the lack of a few dollars to take a dying child to the hospital. Yemen, you realize, is a country where people are dying for lack of a taxi fare.

An injured Yemeni fighter with the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is battling Iran-allied Houthis for control of Yemen at a field hospital in Durayhimi.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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An injured Yemeni fighter with the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is battling Iran-allied Houthis for control of Yemen at a field hospital in Durayhimi.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Yemenis have to navigate such terrain, too.

While some are dying, others are getting on with living. One night we returned to our hotel in Hajjah, a town ringed by rocky ridges in a province that has been pummeled by Saudi airstrikes. Lying in bed, I was startled by a loud bang then a burst of light that filled the sky — not a bomb, but fireworks.

Since the start of the war, the rate of marriage in Yemen has gone up. And so, in this town where malnourished infants were perishing at the city hospital, others were dancing and celebrating through the night.

But the surge in weddings, it turned out, was a survival mechanism.

Across the social spectrum, Yemenis are sliding down the poverty ladder. Where once a mother bought a sack of rice to feed her family, now she can afford only a small bag. The hand of a daughter in marriage brings a bride price, and so weddings can be a source of income for stretched families.

Disturbingly, many of the brides are children. According to Unicef, two-thirds of Yemeni girls are married before the age of 18, up from 50 percent before the war.

As we crossed Yemen — from the battle-scarred port of Hudaydah to the Houthi-held mountains — on a bumpy 900-mile journey, we saw scenes of heartbreaking suffering that unfolded against a backdrop of spectacular mountains, and customs that stubbornly endure despite everything.

Every day, town centers bustled with men buying khat, the narcotic leaf beloved by Yemenis. The khat bazaars are a social event. Men, some with guns over their shoulders, gather to trade news, meet friends and prepare for the afternoon chew.

Women in black cloaks flitted between them; in one place, a loud argument erupted into fisticuffs. Even as starvation bites, some are reluctant to cut back on their habit.

In one health clinic, Ibrahim Junaid, a worried father standing over his ailing 5-month-old son, was chewing a lump of khat that left a green stain on his teeth and lips.

Mr. Junaid was 60; his wife, 25, stood silently by his side. The nurses wrapped the boy in a gold foil blanket to keep him warm.

Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Junaid, 60, and his wife Zahra Ali Ahmed, 25, taking their son, Ahmed Ibrahim al Junaid, 5 months old, to a clinic to treat his malnutrition.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Junaid, 60, and his wife Zahra Ali Ahmed, 25, taking their son, Ahmed Ibrahim al Junaid, 5 months old, to a clinic to treat his malnutrition.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Mr. Junaid regretted that his son hadn’t enough to eat, adding that he had a lot of mouths to feed; he had married twice, and fathered 13 children.

The value of practices like chewing khat may be hard to understand in such turbulent times. But for men like Mr. Junaid, it is an integral part of their day. And it is a mark of the resilience of an ancient society, one of the oldest civilizations of the Middle East.

“People say Yemen is in a state of chaos, but it’s not,” said Thierry Durand, an aid worker who has worked in Yemen since the 1980s, and now runs a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Mocha. “There is still structure.”

“You can’t put it in three lines in your paper or describe it in three minutes on TV,” he continued. “This country is structured by family, tribe, traditions — and despite everything, those structures are still there, and they are strong.”

Still, Yemeni society is being ravaged by war. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, aided by American bombs, have killed thousands of civilians, and displaced many more. But for most Yemenis, war strikes their lives in quieter, more insidious ways.

Bombs blow up bridges or factories, killing jobs, causing the currency to crumble and prices to soar, and forcing families to abstain from meat, then vegetables. Soon, they are dependent on international food aid or, in the worst cases, resort to meals of boiled leaves.

A bridge in Bani Hassan was damaged by a Saudi airstrike.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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A bridge in Bani Hassan was damaged by a Saudi airstrike.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Small but vital things, like a cab fare, become unattainable.

As we drove away from the small hospital in Aslam, where Amal Hussain was being treated, we passed a young couple hitching a ride on the side of the road. They were holding a small infant. We stopped and offered them a ride.

They squeezed into the passenger seat — the father, Khalil Hadi, enveloped by the black cloak of his wife, Hanna, who held their fragile 9-month-old son, Wejdan, who had just been released from the malnutrition ward.

Theirs was a typical story. Their home near the Saudi border had been bombed, so they rented a room in a house near Aslam. Mr. Hadi tried to earn money driving a motorbike taxi, and by foraging for wood to sell at the market.

But it wasn’t enough, and when he tried to go home, the Houthi soldiers told him the area was a military zone. Their diet was reduced to bread, tea and halas, the vine that grew locally. His wife was four months pregnant with their second child.

Mr. Hadi wasn’t looking for pity; many people were in similar trouble, he said. “I’d do anything to make some money,” he said. “The situation is so hard.”

At a junction in the road, the couple stepped out, offered thanks and began to walk away. Fumbling in my pocket, I called them back.

I pulled out a wad of Yemeni notes — about $15 worth — and pressed it into his hand. It seemed so futile, in the greater scheme of things. What could it buy them? A few days respite, if even that?

Mr. Hadi accepted the money with a gracious smile. As we drove off I saw the couple amble down a dusty road, toward their shelter, their ailing son held tight.

Khalil Hadi and his pregnant wife, Itanna Hassan Massani, carrying their 9-month-old son, Wejdan, from a clinic in Aslam.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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Khalil Hadi and his pregnant wife, Itanna Hassan Massani, carrying their 9-month-old son, Wejdan, from a clinic in Aslam.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Follow Declan Walsh on Twitter:@declanwalsh

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Contrast in Crushed State Presents Journalists With Ethical Dilemma. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Humiliated by Attack, Vow to Retaliate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Humiliated by Attack, Vow to Retaliate

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A funeral ceremony in Ahvaz, Iran, on Monday for the victims of the attack on a military parade. Credit Attention Kenare/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Soldiers in dress uniform lay prone in the street. Others, apparently heavily armed, faced the assailants, then threw themselves to the ground without firing back. Some just ran for their lives.

Captured on video and widely shared on social media, the attack over the weekend on an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps parade in Iran was a humiliating blow. A local Arab separatist group claimed responsibility, but Iran said the perpetrators were backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

The moment terrorists struck a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran Credit Video by Press TV

On Monday, Iranian officials vowed revenge against all three countries and Israel.

The attack has escalated tensions between Iran and the Persian Gulf states and their American allies. The Trump White House has taken a hard line against Iran, withdrawing from a nuclear agreement and imposing sanctions that have damaged Iran’s flailing economy.

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Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have clashed with Iran over Yemen, Qatar and Syria. The conflicts are expected to take center stage at the United Nations General Assembly this week.

The attack on Saturday in Ahvaz, Iran, killed at least 25 people, including some children and other civilians who had been among the spectators, according to Iran’s state news agency, IRNA, and a dozen members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

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Iranians at the funeral on Monday. Iranian news accounts said the four assailants had worn Iranian uniforms.CreditEbrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

A widely posted image on Facebook showed members of the Revolutionary Guards military band, wearing tricolor sashes and carrying musical instruments, hiding in a drainage ditch — described by many commentators as a sewer — during the attack.

Iranian officials, including the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, focused blame on Arab kingdoms on the Persian Gulf, as well as the United States. “This cowardly act was carried out by those who are rescued by Americans wherever they are entangled in Syria and Iraq and their hands are in the Saudi and Emirati pockets,” Ayatollah Khamenei said on Monday, the Fars news agency reported.

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In a speech on Monday at a funeral ceremony for the victims of the attack, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, said, “You have seen our revenge before,” according to the news agency Al Ahed, which is run by the pro-Iranian organization Hezbollah in Lebanon. “You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating, and you will regret what you have done.”

The Ahvaz National Resistance, a little-known group with roots among the Arab minority of Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday. So did the Islamic State, though the links to that group were ambiguous. It was the worst attack inside the country since an Islamic State-claimed assault on Parliament in 2017.

Ahvaz is the capital of Khuzestan Province in southwestern Iran, where many of the country’s Arabs live. The Islamic State posted a video that it said showed three of its fighters on their way to the attack, according to IRNA. Two of the fighters were speaking Arabic with an Iraqi accent.

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The Islamic State claimed responsibility with bulletins on its Amaq news service, which also ran the video of the fighters. But the video did not explicitly say the attackers belonged to the Islamic State, nor did they pledge allegiance to the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as similar claims from the group have done in the past.

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The attack killed 25, including children and other civilians who had been among the spectators, according to the state news agency IRNA.CreditEbrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

Iranian news accounts said there had been at least four assailants, who disguised themselves in Iranian uniforms and attacked from behind the viewing bleachers at the parade. They said three of the assailants had been killed and one captured.

Iranian officials provided no evidence that the countries they blamed were behind the attack. The United States and the Emirates issued statements dismissing the accusation.

But the attack came at a volatile time in Iran’s relations with those countries.

A prominent academic in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, added fuel to that fire by saying the attack had been part of an effort to bring the fight against Iran inside the country. Mr. Abdulla, who has frequently been described as an adviser to the Emirate government and as close to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, suggested support for the attack in a Twitter post on Saturday: “A military attack against a military target is not a terrorist act,” he said.

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla@Abdulkhaleq_UAE

هجوم عسكري ضد هدف عسكري ليس بعمل إرهابي.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned an Emirati envoy to complain about Mr. Abdulla’s remarks and warned that the Emirates “would be held accountable for individuals affiliated with official Emirati agencies that show clear support for terrorist acts,” the ministry said in a statement.

Analysts said the Revolutionary Guards, an elite militia that operates independently of the Iranian government, were bound to react strongly to such a public humiliation.

“They’re going to go for a strong reaction to remedy the horrible image this attack has given them, the imagery that they are running away, falling down on the ground and so on,” said Ahmad Moussalli, a regional expert and professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. “They could correct that with a heavy military blow somewhere.”

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The scene of the attack on Saturday. The Ahvaz National Resistance, a little-known group with roots among Iran’s Arab minority, claimed responsibility for the attack, as did the Islamic State.CreditMorteza Jaberian/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

He said that he doubted the Revolutionary Guards would risk a direct military confrontation with the Emirates or Saudi Arabia and that the response would more likely occur in Syria or Iraq. The attack, though embarrassing, Mr. Moussalli said, “shows that the gulf and the United States is targeting Iran now, and gives Iran a pretext to flex their military power.”

The Emirates were not the only regional power cheering on internal resistance to the Iranian government recently.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, suggested a year ago that it was time to turn from external pressure on Iran to internal pressure. Prince Mohammed, in repeated interviews in the United States this year, also likened Ayatollah Khamenei to Hitler, saying at one point, “I believe the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good.”

Saudi Arabia had also bitterly opposed the nuclear deal Iran signed with the United States and other world leaders, and it had cheered the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement.

President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, fueled claims of an American campaign against Iran when he addressed an “Iranian uprising summit” in New York on Saturday — hours after the attack in Ahvaz — saying that a leadership change in Iran was inevitable because of United States sanctions.

“I don’t know when we’re going to overthrow them,” Mr. Giuliani said, according to a Reuters report. “It could be in a few days, months, a couple of years. But it’s going to happen.”

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Mohammad Taha Eghadami, the father of a 4-year-old boy killed in the attack, at the mass funeral on Monday.CreditEbrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, insisted that the Trump administration was not seeking a leadership change in Iran. In response to President Hassan Rouhani’s criticism of the United States, she said in an interview with CNN: “He can blame us all he wants. The thing he’s got to do is look in the mirror.”

After attacks in Tehran last year, the Revolutionary Guards said that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States were responsible, but most government officials blamed terrorists. This time, Iranian leaders described the attack not as terrorism, but as an act of foreign aggression — a significant difference, said Hussein Allawi, a national security analyst at Al Nahrain University in Iraq.

“The Iranian authorities denied that a terrorist organization did the operation,” he said. “Instead it accused states in the Middle East of carrying out the operation, even though signs of terrorism in the operation were clear.”

Despite the bellicose language from the supreme leader and the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, other officials seemed to adopt a more cautious reaction, at least initially.

Speaking at the funeral for the Ahvaz victims on Monday, the deputy commander of Iran’s regular army, Brig. Gen. Nozar Nemati, said it was too early to say whether Western intelligence agencies had been involved in the attack, and suggested it may have originated closer to home.

“They are the same people who were followers of Saddam at the onset of the war, and they are pursuing the same goal,” IRNA quoted him as saying. He was referring to the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who fought a bitter war in an attempt to destroy Iran in the 1980s.

Follow Rod Nordland on Twitter: @rodnordland.

Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut, Falih Hassan from Baghdad, and Rukmini Callimachi from New York.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: Blaming U.S. and Gulf States, Iran Vows Revenge for Humiliating Attack. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Outside Iran’s Most Notorious Prison, Calls for Loved Ones to Be Freed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

Iranian students during a protest in Tehran late last month. More than 500 people, including 90 students, have been arrested in Tehran alone since antigovernment demonstrations began.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

TEHRAN — The man stood outside the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran on Sunday, his hands deep inside his pockets as snow continued to fall. His son Majid had been inside the prison for over a week, after being arrested during the largest antigovernment demonstrations Iran has seen in years.

“My wife and I are here every day,” said the man, who gave only his first name, Hossein. “I don’t want trouble. I just want my son released.”

Majid, a 32-year-old employee at a telecommunications company, calls from prison daily. He had not been protesting at all, his father insists, and was arrested by mistake.

Members of Iran’s ruling establishment have taken turns assigning blame for the protests in more than 80 cities that have resulted in at least 21 deaths and shined a light on the country’s declining economic conditions, corruption and a lack of personal freedom. Some have accused foreign “enemies,” including the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, of organizing and financing the movement.

More than 500 people have been arrested in Tehran alone since the demonstrations began on Dec. 28. Local news organizations say that more than 1,000 have been detained nationwide, and even that is probably a conservative estimate. The average age of those arrested is under 25, the deputy interior minister, Hossein Zolfaghari, told the semiofficial website Jamaran.

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Based on reports from family members and friends outside Evin Prison on Sunday, as well as official sources, dozens of people have been released, but hundreds more remain in prison.

A group of reformist activists wrote an open letter published on Sunday on the front page of the newspaper Etemaad calling for the release of those arrested during the demonstrations, saying that Iranians had the right to protest peacefully.

“People feel belittled and hopeless,” the letter said.

There were more than 100 people gathered outside Evin Prison on Sunday: family members and friends of the detained, the women shielding themselves from the snow with umbrellas; a well-known political activist, Mohammad Nourizad; and a group of dervishes that had set up a makeshift camp under one of the prison’s watchtowers, singing an old song from their native province, Lorestan.

“Oh mother, mother, it is time for fighting, it is time to make friends with the rifle,” a man with an imposing mustache sang, with others repeating the lines after him.

They gathered around a campfire, having brought an ample supply of wood and tents in which to sleep. They had, effectively, set up a protest camp in front of the prison.

“The political prisoners must be freed,” they chanted as people filmed them with their phones, and as guards carrying machine guns on their shoulders looked down from walls and watchtowers above.

Evin Prison, a sprawling complex built partly inside a mountain, is Tehran’s oldest and most notorious prison. It has played an important role in Iran’s contemporary history, housing political and criminal prisoners since 1972. Some of the cells were designed for solitary confinement, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security control their own sections of the building.

Iran is a country where activism or political dissent can often lead to charges and imprisonment. Hundreds of journalists, bloggers and activists have been detained over the years. Charges can come down even against those seemingly not involved in opposition politics, like Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American reporter for The Washington Post who was held in Evin Prison for 544 days on charges of espionage, a claim he strongly denies.

When Iran faced its last major antigovernment demonstrations, the so-called Green Movement of 2009, millions took to the streets and thousands were arrested, requiring temporary holding centers to be opened because Evin was overcrowded. In one, the Kahrizak detention center in Tehran, some protesters were tortured, and three died.

Iran’s supreme leader called for an investigation of that case, and several officers were given jail sentences. Not all have served those sentences, however, the local news media has reported.

Ali, a plump man wearing a brown beret who would not give his surname for fear of retribution by the authorities, was waiting in the snow outside Evin Prison for the release of his friend Hossein, who was arrested on Dec. 29.

Hossein had been at the demonstrations because “he was angry, like many people,” Ali said. Hossein soon realized a man had grabbed the cellphone of a woman who had been filming the protesters.

“Hossein chased him, but he turned out to be a plainclothes police officer,” Ali said. “I’m bringing the deed of his house so he can post for bail.”

The entrance of Evin Prison is near a busy highway, and metal sheets have been placed on overpasses to prevent people from looking down. But a side road provides direct access to the prison, and a parade of Iranian-made cars, a garbage truck, motorcycles and a high-end-model Mercedes-Benz drove past at one point on Sunday, with many rolling down their windows to see the people waiting in front of the prison.

“Poor families,” said Hamid Mousavi, a retiree driving a taxi. “They must be so worried.”

Siavash, who works for the Telecommunications Ministry, said he had come to Evin to bail out his brother-in-law, Siamak, whom he described as a womanizer.

“He wanted to meet women, I guess, and have some fun,” Siavash said “He’ll be freed today, I’m happy. He’s been calling us a couple of times a day. He wants to come home.”

NY Times: Pentagon study of UFOs revealed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN AND THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

NY Times: Pentagon study of UFOs revealed

Former Sen. Harry Reid speaks at a rally in Nevada in 2016. The New York Times says it was his interest that spurred the creation of the UFO program.

(CNN)Beyond preparing for the next field of battle, or advancing a massive arsenal that includes nuclear weapons, the Pentagon has also researched the possible existence of UFOs.

The New York Times reported Saturday on the once completely classified project that began because of the intense interest in the subject by former Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.
According to the Times, the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program was launched in 2007 after the Nevada Democrat spoke to his longtime friend, Robert Bigelow, the billionaire founder of an aerospace company. Bigelow has spoken about his belief in UFOs visiting the United States as well as the existence of aliens.
Among the anomalies the program studied, the paper said, were video and audio recordings of aerial encounters by military pilots and unknown objects, as well as interviews with people who said they had experienced physical encounters with such objects.
In one instance, the program looked at video footage of a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet surrounded by a glowing object of unknown origin traveling at a high rate of speed in a location that officials declined to identify, the paper said.
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The Pentagon says the program has since been shuttered.
“The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ended in the 2012 timeframe,” Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson told CNN. “It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change.”
But according to the Times, certain aspects of the program still exist with officials from the program continuing to investigate encounters brought to them by service members, while these officials still carry out their other duties within the Defense Department.
The former director of the program told the paper that he worked with officials from the Navy and CIA from his office in the Pentagon until this past October, when he resigned in protest. He said a replacement had been named, but he declined to identify them.
Reid, the Times says, was also supported in his efforts to fund the program by the late Sens. Ted Stevens of Alaska, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, and John Glenn of Ohio, the first American to orbit the Earth, who told Reid the federal government should take a serious look at UFOs.
And working to keep a program that he was sure would draw scrutiny from others, Reid said he, Stevens and Inouye made sure there was never any public debate about the program on the Senate floor during budget debates.
“This was so-called black money,” Reid told the Times regarding the Defense Department budget for classified programs.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince calls Iran’s supreme leader ‘new Hitler’ of the Middle East

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince calls Iran’s supreme leader ‘new Hitler’ of the Middle East

Amid his sweeping cultural reforms and systematic purges from the royal family, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince this week called Iran’s supreme leader the “new Hitler of the Middle East,” comments that are sure to ratchet up the conflict between the two rival Muslim powers.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made the statements about Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in an interview with The New York Times that was published Thursday. Salman told The Times that Iran’s efforts to expand “needed to be confronted.”

The prince, 32, who is expected to succeed his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, 81, compared Iran and Saudi Arabia’s power struggle in the region to those fighting for Europe in World War II.

“But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East,” Salman told The New York Times.

RETURNING PM ATTENDS LEBANON’S MILITARY PARADE

The Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia support rival sides in the various wars and political battles occurring throughout the region. Saudi Arabia backs Sunni Muslims while Tehran backs Shiite Muslims.

Tensions between the two countries escalated earlier this month when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced in Saudi Arabia that he was resigning from his position. Hariri accused Iran-backed Hezbollah, a Shiite political party and terror group based in Lebanon, of holding his country hostage and plotting against him. Saudi Arabia has also accused Hezbollah of meddling on Iran’s behalf in regional affairs.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a regional banking conference, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. Hariri told the conference that the country's stability is his primary concern. The remarks, a day after Hariri suspended his resignation, sought to assure the Hariri's government would keep up the effort to have Lebanon remain a top Mideast destination for finance. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said earlier this month he was resigning from his position.  (AP)

Hezbollah, however, accused Saudi Arabia of engineering Hariri’s resignation, calling it “an act of war,” Reuters reported.

Hariri returned to Lebanon this week and said he was putting his resignation on hold.

 

UN CHIEF NUKE INSPECTOR: IRAN COMPLYING WITH NUCLEAR DEAL

Salman also told The New York Times the war in Yemen was “going in its favor.” The war, which has raged since 2015, has pitted a Saudi-led coalition backed by the U.S. against the Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemen’s ousted president. The war has left over 10,000 people dead, driven 3 million from their homes and destroyed the country’s already fragile infrastructure.

Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of sending aid to the Houthi rebels in Yemen while Tehran has denied the accusations, the BBC reported.

Iran did not immediately responded to Salman’s comments but Khamenei has previously called Saudi Arabia’s royal family, the House of Saud, an “accursed tree” and accused the kingdom of “spreading terrorism.”

A November crackdown saw the arrests of 11 members of the House of Saud on various charges related to “corruption.” In the midst of the arrests and constant countering of Iran, Saudi Arabia has also worked to institute reforms such as allowing women to drive vehicles in the Kingdom.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

525 Successful CEO’s Share What They’ve Learned About Leadership

(I FOUND THIS ARTICLE FROM ‘MENU INC.’ ON STUMBLE UPON AND THE ‘GEEK GAP’ AND THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

525 Successful CEOs Share What They’ve Learned About Leadership
New York Times reporter Adam Bryant spent 10 years asking questions. Here are some of the answers.
Adam Bryant, The New York Times Columnist, and Ursula Burns, Chairwoman, and CEO of Xerox Corporation
CREDIT: Getty Images

Running a company, department, or team is hard. Have you ever wished you could ask the most successful CEOs how they do it? Well you can’t, but someone else already has–New York Times reporter Adam Bryant, who has interviewed 525 CEOs over the past 10 years for his Corner Office column, asking them for their leadership insights rather than about their companies. On Friday, Bryant published the last of these columns, and he used his farewell piece to provide an amalgamation of everything he’d learned from the CEOs over the years. It’s a fascinating read for any leader. Here are some of their most interesting lessons:

1. There’s no right way to become a leader.

Business columnists (including me) love to write about the one quality you need to be a great leader, but Bryant says there really isn’t any such thing. “There are too many variables, many of them beyond your control, including luck, timing, and personal chemistry,” he explains. Nor is there any obvious career path for CEOs, he writes, though he does note that a surprising number of them were not straight-A students and even got bad grades.

2. You have to balance the opposites.

So many of the things a good leader needs to do are contradictory, Bryant writes. “Better to understand leadership as a series of paradoxes,” he states. For instance, you need humility to know what you don’t know but audacity to make bold moves. Empathy is hugely important, but so is the ability to fire someone (even while empathizing with that person).

One CEO talked about opposing leadership values: listening versus leadership, being generous versus holding people accountable, and so on. “There is a tension or a balance between them,” she said.

3. Culture comes from what you do, not what you say.

Most CEOs have at some point gone through the exercise of defining their companies’ values and culture. Bryant calls it “a predictable rite of passage.” The thing is that it doesn’t matter how many retreats you go on, or whether you provide flexible hours, unlimited vacations, ping-pong tables, or catering–there’s only one way to let employees know your company’s culture and values: by whom you discipline and whom you reward.

“No matter what people say about culture, it’s all tied to who gets promoted, who gets raises, and who gets fired,” one CEO told Bryant. Whatever you say about culture, people in your company will see the people who get promoted as role models for the behavior you want.

4. You have to be trustworthy.

If you forced him to pick one quality all good leaders need, Bryant writes, it would be trustworthiness. “We all have a gut sense of our bosses, based on our observations and experiences: Do we trust them to do the right thing?” he writes. “Do they own their mistakes; give credit where credit is due; care about their employees as people as opposed to assets?”

As one CEO put it, “If you want to lead others, you’ve got to have their trust, and you can’t have their trust without integrity.”

5. It’s all about respect–yours, not theirs.

For me, one of Bryant’s most surprising insights was about the importance of respect–but not that good leaders need to earn the respect of their employees. It’s the flip side: That the best leaders have the greatest respect for those who report to them.

One CEO put it this way: “By definition, if there’s leadership, it means there are followers, and you’re only as good as the followers. I believe the quality of the followers is in direct correlation to the respect you hold them in. It’s not how much they respect you that is most important. It’s actually how much you respect them. It’s everything.” That’s counterintuitive. And yet, it makes perfect sense.

Spend an evening with Shark Tank’s Kevin ‘Mr. Wonderful’ O’Leary at iCONIC Exchange: Austin on December 6 from 6-9 p.m. Seats are extremely limited. To learn more visit iconic.inc.com.
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The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
PUBLISHED ON: OCT 31, 2017
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