“I’m glad mushrooms are against the law, because I took them one time, and you know what happened to me? I laid in a field of green grass for four hours going, “My God! I love everything.” Yeah, now if that isn’t a hazard to our country … how are we gonna justify arms dealing when we realize that we’re all one?”—Bill Hicks (via billhicks)
The violence in Iraq has killed more than 5,500 civilians over the first six months of the year, according to a report by the United Nations that documents the massive humanitarian toll of the Sunni militant offensive.
The Islamic State (Isis) and other Sunni insurgents seized control of the city of Falluja, as well as part of nearby Ramadi in Anbar province in early January. The militants then launched an offensive in June that has brought a huge swath of northern and western Iraq under their control.
In its report, the UN mission to Iraq says at least 5,576 civilians were killed and another 11,665 wounded from 1 January until the end of June. Another 1.2 million have been driven from their homes by the violence, it adds.
The pace of civilian deaths over the first six months marked a sharp increase over the previous year. In all of 2013, the UN reported just over 7,800 civilians killed, which was the highest annual death toll in years.
The fighting “has inflicted untold hardship and suffering on the civilian population with large-scale killings, injuries, and destruction and damage of livelihoods and property”, the UN report says.
It also documents human rights abuses by both sides of the conflict that may constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes.
The UN said Isis and its allies had committed “systematic and egregious violations” against civilians, including killings, sexual violence, kidnappings, destruction of property and attacks on places of religious worship.
It also documented violations by government forces, including summary executions of prisoners and detainees.
The UN urged all sides in the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians, and to respect international law and humanitarian law.
The office of the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, said on Friday the ailing leader would return on Saturday from Germany, where he has been receiving medical treatment since 2012. Few details have been released about his condition.
Talabani is finishing up his second consecutive term as president and is not eligible to run again.
“Clothes are people’s extended skin, wheels extended feet, camera and telescope extended eyes. Out technological creations are extrapolations of the bodies that our genes build. In this way, we can think of technology as our extended body. If technology is an extension of humans, it is not an extension of our genes but our minds.
Technology is the exoskeleton of ideas.”—Kevin Kelly (via inthenoosphere)
“American policymakers believe that an alliance with Israel helps the US control the Middle East. So the United States enables Israeli colonialism and occupation, which in turn creates contexts for further US interventions in the region that can be used to try to deepen American hegemony.”—The Logic of Israeli Violence (via azspot)
As Israel’s military onslaught on Gaza continues into its 24th day, a senior US defense official announced today that the US has allowed Israel to tap into an munitions stockpile to resupply the Israeli military with weapons.
The munitions were part of the program called War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel (WRSA-I), which locally stores weapons for the US, and can be used by Israel in case of emergency. Israel, however, did not state an emergency situation when it requested use of the munitions.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” said Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, in a statement today. “This defense sale is consistent with those objectives.”
Kirby added that White House approval was not required for the use of US weapon stockpiles by Israel.
“We’re tired of war. I, for one, have had enough of bloodshed, death and destruction. But I also can no longer tolerate the return to a deeply unjust status quo. I can no longer agree to live in this open-air prison. We can no longer tolerate to be treated as sub-humans, deprived of our most basic human rights. We are trapped here, trapped between two deaths: death by Israeli bombs and missiles, and death by Israel’s blockade of Gaza.”—Mohammed Suliman, Palestinian human rights worker in Gaza, "From Gaza: I would rather die in dignity than agree to living in an open-air prison" (via thepeoplesrecord)
“The first language humans had was gestures. There was nothing primitive about this language that flowed from people’s hands, nothing we say now that could not be said in the endless array of movements possible with the fine bones of the fingers and wrists. The gestures were complex and subtle, involving a delicacy of motion that has since been lost completely.
During the Age of Silence, people communicated more, not less. Basic survival demanded that the hands were almost never still, and so it was only during sleep (and sometimes not even then) that people were not saying something or other. No distinction was made between the gestures of language and the gestures of life. The labor of building a house, say, or preparing a meal was no less an expression than making the sign for I love you or I feel serious. When a hand was used to shield one’s face when frightened by a loud noise something was being said, and when fingers were used to pick up what someone else had dropped something was being said; and even when the hands were at rest, that, too, was saying something. Naturally, there were misunderstandings. There were times when a finger might have been lifted to scratch a nose, and if casual eye contact was made with one’s lover just then, the lover might accidentally take it to be the gesture, not at all dissimilar, for Now I realize I was wrong to love you. These mistakes were heartbreaking. And yet, because people knew how easily they could happen, because they didn’t go round with the illusion that they understood perfectly the things other people said, they were used to interrupting each other to ask if they’d understood correctly. Sometimes these misunderstandings were even desirable, since they gave people a reason to say, Forgive me, I was only scratching my nose.Of course I know I’ve always been right to love you. Because of the frequency of these mistakes, over time the gesture for asking forgiveness evolved into the simplest form. Just to open your palm was to say: Forgive me.”—Nicole Krauss, The History of Love (via wordsnquotes)
“It is not heroin or cocaine that makes one an addict, it is the need to escape from a harsh reality. There are more television addicts, more baseball and football addicts, more movie addicts, and certainly more alcohol addicts in this country than there are narcotics addicts.”—Shirley Chisholm (via heroin-lover)