Terrorists Killed, Weapons Storehouses Destroyed…Border Infiltration Attemtps Foiled

English Bulletin from the Syrian Arab News Agency

PROVINCES, (SANA)- The Syrian armed forces continued pursuing the terrorists mercenaries who intimidated the civilians in a number of neighborhoods in the city of Aleppo, helped by the citizens who have been informing the authorities of the movement and whereabouts of the terrorists.

Syrian Arab News Agency photo

A source in Aleppo province on Saturday told SANA reporter that the armed forces confronted an armed terrorist group near the Faculty of Sciences in Aleppo inflicting big losses among the terrorists and arresting others.

The source added that a unit of the army killed and wounded dozens of terrorists near the Radio area in Aleppo city.

The armed forces continued chasing the terrorist groups out of Saif al-Dawleh area inflicting heavy losses upon their members.

The told SANA that the authorities have seized large amounts of weapons and ammunition in the course of their pursuit of the terrorists and dismantled a number of explosive devices. Continue reading

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Refugee Policies Should Be Evidence-Based

by Susan McGrath

Photo: 2010 Legal Observers/Flickr

Canadian policy-making on refugee issues is ignoring the evidence of leading researchers in the field. Empirical research that would improve refugee legislation and the practices of our refugee determination system is being overlooked to the detriment of refugees and the Canadian public.

A key example is the immigration detention process.

Professor Delphine Nakache of the University of Ottawa recently completed a detailed 100-page report on the Canadian immigration detention system managed by the Canada Border Services Agency. The research methodology was comprehensive including site visits, key informant interviews, and a review of government reports and academic literature. Ms. Nakache drew on key international and domestic legal principles to review Canadian practices and looked at statistics on who is detained and on the system’s cost.

Her research raises a number of concerns about the current system including its legality and practices.

Ms. Nakache points out that international human rights law requires that immigration detention should be the exception rather than the rule; must be in accordance with the law and not arbitrary; and that the detention conditions be humane.

Her findings are disturbing. Refugee claimants including women, children, and people with mental health issues are being detained in prisons across the country including high-security prisons where they must wear prison uniforms, may be handcuffed and shackled when moved for medical treatment, and their access to legal counsel and communications is severely limited.

CBSA detention facilities are not sufficient for the number of people that they choose to detain so local, provincial, and federal jails are being used resulting in inconsistencies in services and jurisdictional tensions.

Ms. Nakache’s efforts to determine how many refugee claimants were being detained were not successful because of the inadequacy of CBSA statistics; they do not distinguish between refugee claimants and those whose claims have been denied nor do they count minors detained with their parents.

She found inconsistencies in decisions made by CBSA officers across the country; the likelihood of being detained appears to depend on the port of entry where the asylum seeker arrives.

Similarly, she was unable to comment on the cost effectiveness of the system because of the lack of available, up-to-date data. The information she did uncover suggests that detention is very expensive. The cost of detaining the 492 men, women, and children from the MV Sun Sea is over $22 million. Treating these people as regular claimants would have been considerably cheaper and certainly more humane.

Canadian system not charter compliant

Ms. Nakache’s study builds on the 2011 work of U.K. researcher Alice Edwards who studied international law governing detention and provided a critical overview of existing and possible alternatives to detention drawn from research in five countries including Canada.

She concludes that there is no empirical evidence to give credence to the assumption that the threat of being detained deters irregular migration or discourages persons from seeking asylum. Threats to life or freedom in an individual’s country of origin are likely to be a greater push factor for a refugee than any disincentive created by detention policies in countries of transit or destination.

She also found that over 90 per cent of refugee claimants and people awaiting deportation comply with the terms of their release from detention and that the alternatives to detention are a significantly cheaper option.

Australian researcher Amy Nethery confirms that two decades of immigration detention in Australia have not deterred asylum seekers arriving by boat. The rise and fall in the numbers of arrivals correspond with the rise and fall of people movement globally.

In addition to being ineffective, detention is extremely expensive and is harmful to those detained. A recent systematic study of refugee claimants in detention by Janet Cleveland and colleagues at McGill University shows that even short-term detention has a negative impact on the health of both adults and children that may persist long after release.

The evidence shows that the Canadian detention system is flawed and not compliant with the Canadian Charter; detention is not a deterrent to people seeking refuge and is detrimental to their well-being; and, alternatives to detention are cheaper, effective, and more humane. But the CBSA continues to detain on average 5,000 men, women, and children every year. The proposed bill, C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act allows for refugee claimants who arrive in groups to be subjected to mandatory detention for up to a year.

Government policy-making should be based on empirical evidence not false, misleading, and often egregious assumptions about the motivations and behaviour of people legally seeking the protection of our country. The perils of ignoring such knowledge are too great — legally, socially, and economically.

Canada has a strong network of academic and practitioner researchers across the country working on forced migration issues, and they are linked with international colleagues. The Centre for Refugee Studies at York University has been producing leading research for almost 25 years and is hosting the global refugee research network of over 1,000 members. The now-defunded Canadian Metropolis project has five university-based research centres across the country with over 600 researchers focused on migration and settlement issues.

The March 9 virtual conference of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers brought together 250 academics and practitioners from six different sites across the country to debate the proposed refugee legislation.

The upcoming May conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at York University is to feature over 120 research presentations.

Canadian policy-makers have a rich resource of refugee research to draw on and our refugee policies and practices need this knowledge and expertise if they are to be legal and humane.

Susan McGrath is the director of the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University. This article was first published in Embassy Magazine.

Ron Paul Hates Me (Black, non-white, GLBTQ, Working, and Poor People, really)

by Cliff Cawthon

When talking to many friends about Ron Paul there’s one suggestion that always repulses me: ‘you should register Republican to vote for Ron Paul….he’s anti-corporate and anti-war’. No, I shouldn’t vote for someone who wrote in a 1980- 1990’s newsletter that “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks”.  Ron Paul is tied to bigots and a friend to neoliberal capitalism and business. Furthermore, my non-U.S. friends may desire the empire to collapse but Paul will fiddle while completing the American ‘wall’: along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Issue by issue, Paul’s right-libertarian policies reproduce his populist ignorance. His is touted as a peace loving savior but, his KKK wizard friends, such as; David Duke and Don Black (seriously, look it up on News One) wouldn’t appreciate an America  that is apart of the global community. Paul’s paleo-conservative love of isolationism is precisely that. What is rather disturbing is that Paul’s isolationism means that we retreat to our borders, with the stuff we’ve expropriated and that U.S. corporations continue to expropriate from faraway places. A fortress America also would be an America of states rights’ (something which Ron Paul avidly supports) state’s rights enabled American Apartheid (a.k.a. Jim Crow) to occur by relieving themselves from observing U.S. constitutional or federal law.

Let’s remember, unless you were a white, wealthy landowning (probably slave-owning), male, Protestant Christian, and heterosexual (homosexuality was considered sinful and socially abhorrent at that time) America’s promise was simply propaganda. Only later on, constitutional amendments such as, the 13th(freedom from slavery), 14th (Equal Rights, Privileges and Immunities of citizenship, Due process, and Equal Protection), 15th (Right to vote), and acts such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were political and civil manifestations that were the result of struggle and of social and political change. These things weren’t conceived by the “founders” who dominated another class of people (namely my ancestors) by virtue of how much property that they had, particularly via the ownership of others. These changes however, occurred through a convergence of changing economic conditions, social movements, and political struggle from pressure from below that translated into concession s and adjustments from above.

Owners, bosses, slaveholders, agrarian America’s bourgeoisie led the revolution that Paul fervently alludes to like a fanatic. When I hear some Paul supporters hailing Paul and ‘constitutionalism’ they forget the aforementioned clash between classes and the evolutionary nature of bourgeois republics’. People like David Duke, just want to take us back to 1776 or 1950’s in Mississippi where WASPMH’s (white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant, male, heterosexual) ruled and people ‘knew their place in the real America’ and we didn’t have to worry about “Obama’s corporate commu-nazi fascist socialist imperialism”, a la big government.

In a few words: Paul’s aspirations are inspired by a system supported by slaveocracy and merchant-barons- the America of Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin. He’s very clear about this, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Paul’s positions against corporations have gotten a lot of support as well, but he’s more pro-corporate than the openly pro-business candidates! Paul’s position is complete laissez-faire. The machinery of the state, as opposed to being operated in the public’s interests or addressing historical inequalities will either be abolished or privately run. Upon the private sector being de-regulated corporations outsourced millions of jobs and reduced cities like Buffalo from gilded living cities to communities on life-support. In doing so, it widened the historical race gap. It has been government intervention, not abstention that has helped close the gap. For example, in the wake of the deregulation of the Bush regime, U.S. National Public Radio and the Pew Research Center cited a significant decrease in income for non-white people: the black home was 20 times poorer than white in 2009.

So whose interest is Paul’s utopia in? When he says that the 1964 Civil Rights Act “undermine[d] the concept of liberty”, I know that it wouldn’t include me; or anyone who comprises the has-nots.  However, one cannot completely erase history; the catch of this liberty is that it covers those with power, privilege or favor.

Ron Paul’s message of universal liberty from government intrusion, taxation, via the free market, based on what the founders intended wouldn’t have been good for a slave. I would have been enslaved in 1776 as America declared its independence! That’s what Paul’s vision means to me.

To my friends who suggest Ron Paul as a left-wing alternative to Obama and do mean well, I hope you consider that his agenda represents the opposite of what we want. Do we want capitalism to be unregulated so people with money can accumulate as much as they want and buy up the world around us? No, because that is control. It’s small government but big corporations where everything is a commodity and greed.

Lastly, For my anti-war friends, don’t just judge on moralistic talk. If we are for peace in general then we have to accept our mistakes.  Lastly, we’ve messed up. The last 100 years we have gone across the world and we’ve done horrific things but, the only thing we can do is make it right. Global poverty is not an accident and simply withdrawing bases and troops as a panacea is Paul’s pipe dream. We are the result of people we don’t even know, so we owe it to our brothers and sisters to work for a better tomorrow. Not praise slaveholders and imperialists and wish for Jim Crow, at home or abroad.

Also, on a racial note to my white friends who identify with Paul’s ideas, do you really want to identify with a particular (and recent) strain of libertarianism that is based on racial and class privilege? If so, then remember the true crime of racism is that we are stuck in our skin: you and I, white and black. Therefore, there’s a dynamic of privilege and un-privilege, whereas human beings are given goods and prioritized by an artificial category. Paul and likewise, European fascists who want to defend “western values” or ‘mainstream’ intellectuals like the riot-hawk David Starkey, who attributed the multiethnic riot to white kids “turning black”, refuse to see  race or acknowledge historical un-privilege. We have to deal with these things, or we fear repeating the horrors of the past. So let’s not start smoking Paul’s crack pipe.

*note: Originally posted on http://www.redemancipation.wordpress.com