United for Peace of Pierce County, WA - We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy.

TRANSLATION: WikiLeaks reveals massive US economic espionage against France

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In the U.S., only a few news agency reports are mentioning the latest revelations by WikiLeaks:  documents published in partnership with Libération and Mediapart that demonstrate American spying on French public and private commercial activity that is so massive and systematic that it amounts to a form of warfare.  --  Below is a translation of Libération's introduction to the documents.[1]...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 01:01 Read more...
 

NEWS: EU & Tsipras disagree on what referendum signifies

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is telling Greeks that Sunday's referendum is only about the terms the E.U. is offering for debt relief.  --  E.U. leaders, though, are declaring that the vote is on the euro itself.  --  But the referendum question itself does not even mention the euro.  --  Tsipras's strategy is based on a conviction that the E.U. is faking, that it cannot afford for Greece to leave the eurozone, and that therefore the E.U. will have to blink and accept writing off a large part of the Greek debt.  --  But this approach is angering Germany, which holds the whip hand, and E.U. leaders warned on Monday "that Sunday’s vote on the country’s international bailout was a referendum on its membership of the eurozone, insisting rejection would bring no better offer and could have disastrous economic consequences," the Financial Times of London reported.[1]   --  WSWS characterized the Jul. 5 referendum as "a cynical attempt to shift the onus for the catastrophe engulfing the Greek working class from Syriza to the population itself, and provide a fig leaf for Syriza’s capitulation."[2]  --  Robert Stevens said that the E.U. has "deliberately collapsed the economy of an E.U. member state, with incalculable financial and political implications, in order to underscore their insistence that there is no alternative to austerity."  --  He noted that on Saturday evening, IMF Director Christine Lagarde told the BBC that the referendum was meaningless, because the proposal is no longer on the table:  “legally speaking, the referendum will relate to proposals and arrangements that are no longer valid," and if Greece did not make its payment on June 30, it “no longer has access to funding.” ...

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ANALYSIS: Uncharted waters ahead as Greek debt crisis has 'no modern parallel'

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While "[p]olls show that the Greek people favor staying in the euro, and Greece’s leaders have said they do not want to leave the common currency," Greece's abandonment of the euro seems increasingly likely, the New York Times reported Sunday.[1]  --  Greece's banking system has shut down.  --  Banks are closed and caps on cash withdrawals have been imposed.  --  Anxiety is high, as there is "no modern parallel" for the present situation, in the words of economist Michael Dooley.  --  It is still possible that Greece will, "at the last minute, forge a deal with its creditors," but E.U. leaders have refused to extend talks until the July 5 referendum the Greek government announced.  --  Jean-Luc Mélenchon characterized the decision as a "financial coup d'état."  --  WSWS noted that Syriza did not expect to find itself in this situation:  "Syriza and its supporters convinced themselves that they could reach a negotiated settlement on the issue of E.U. austerity.  --  As they came to power, they publicly repudiated essential measures to defend against the E.U.:  repudiating the debt, imposing capital controls, and nationalizing the banks, and major industries."[2]  --  The outcome of the crisis is likely to be as political as it is financial.  --   "There are powerful sections of the Greek bourgeoisie who are not prepared to accept the withdrawal of Greece from the Eurozone," Alex Lantier said.  --  "Maneuvers are . . . afoot in the Greek ruling elite to bring down the current government and install a new one that would focus only on imposing a deal with the E.U.," and "an intervention by the Greek military" and a "Syriza-N.D. regime . . . relying on the security forces and the army to impose E.U. austerity on a hostile population that voted against it in January" are possibilities.  --  "As for plans of a return to the drachma, the Greek press has already indicated that they include the mobilization of the army to close Greece’s borders and suppress protests against the collapse of the currency."  --  A piece on Friday posted by Spiegel Online was entitled "Greece Peers Fearfully over the Brink" and depicted the confusion of the debt negotiations and helped explain the widespread sense that even now, anything may happen.[3] ...

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UFPPC statement: TPP -- another nail in democracy's coffin

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UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY

"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."

TPP—ANOTHER NAIL IN DEMOCRACY'S COFFIN

June 25, 2015

Don't let the phrase "trade deal" make your eyes glaze over!  Check out instead what Global Trade Watch has to say about the struggle over the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Then call your representatives in Congress and let them know what you think.  Although the fast-track battle has just been lost, the struggle over TPP is not over yet, and the stakes are high.

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ANALYSIS: 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' R.I.P. -- US signals acceptance of break-up of Iraq

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Remember when "Operation Iraqi Freedom," was announced on Mar. 19, 2003, as the nation's commitment to "helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable, and free country"?  --   On Jun. 17, 2015, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, appearing before the House Armed Services Committee, signaled that the U.S. accepts that Iraq is breaking up.  --  Unlike Operation Iraqi Freedom, this development was completely ignored by U.S. mainstream media.  --  Only organs of the radical press, WSWS among them, noted Carter's remark that while the U.S. will remain involved in the region, "there will not be a single state of Iraq."[1]  --  So what if the Obama administration's public justification for the movement of U.S. forces back into Iraq is the preservation of Iraq's sovereignty as the "United States' prime interest" (President Barack Obama, April 14, 2015)?  --  American policymakers' interest in defending Iraq's sovereignty is evaporating as the existing Iraqi régime's reliance on Iranian support grows.  --  COMMENT:  The discreet silence is another illustration of Nobel Prize-winner Harold Pinter's observations about the disasters that accompany U.S. foreign policy ("yes . . . they are attributable to American foreign policy.  --  But you wouldn't know it.  --  It never happened.  --  Nothing ever happened.  --  Even while it was happening, it didn't happen.  --  It didn't matter")....

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 June 2015 00:18 Read more...
 

BACKGROUND: Soros recommends US-China strategic partnership

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In the July 9 New York Review of Books, George Soros warns that the world is in a phase of declining political and financial international cooperation.[1]  --  To prevent increasing international instability from evolving into "military conflict," he calls for a "strategic partnership between the U.S. and China."  --  Soros argues that since China wants the renminbi to be included in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket whose composition will be revised the end of 2015, the occasion offers the U.S. a strategic opportunity "worth trying," because "the alternative is so unpalatable."  --  "If a bona fide attempt fails, the U.S. would then be fully justified in developing a strong enough partnership with China’s neighbors that a Chinese-Russian alliance would not dare to challenge it by military force," he concludes.  --  BACKGROUND:  Soros's analysis of recent history is as follows.  --  The Cold War's division of the world into opposing blocs created a stable system in which the threat of nuclear Armageddon encouraged the two superpowers to control allies and prevent conflicts from escalating.  --  The collapse of the Soviet Union offered the United States a chance to be the impresario of a new global order, but U.S. elites failed to rise to the occasion.  --  Politically, American foreign policy was hijacked by neoconservatives who "persuaded President George W. Bush to attack Iraq on dubious grounds that turned out to be false, and the U.S. lost its supremacy."  --  Financially, the Washington Consensus disintegrated and let to "a process of financial and political disintegration that first manifested itself in the microcosm of the European Union, but then spread to the world at large."  --  Only China was relatively immune from this twin catastrophe:  "The Chinese banking system was relatively isolated from the rest of the world and largely government-owned.  --  As a consequence, the Chinese banks could, at the government’s behest, offset the collapse of external demand by flooding the economy with credit.  --  The Chinese economy replaced the American consumer as the motor of the global economy, largely by selling to the American consumer on credit."  --  But Russia under Vladimir Putin is pursuing destabilizing policies and the E.U. is proving to be incapable of responding to multiple crises:  "Russia, Ukraine, Greece, immigration, and the coming British referendum on E.U. membership . . . The very survival of the E.U. is at risk."  --  Containing Russia (again) is a principal motivation of Soros's policy recommendation.  --  COMMENT:  The weakest point in Soros's analysis is its portrayal of Putin as purely "aggressive."  --  Soros's political, personal, and ideological commitments blind him to the fact that from its point of view, Russian policy is a defensive response to Western aggression....

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FILM: New documentary on James Lawson to be screened in Tacoma -- Sun., Jun. 14 @ 4pm

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A new film on the life and work of James Lawson will be shown at 4:00 p.m. on Sun., Jun. 14, 2015, at the Friends Meeting House in Tacoma.  --  Adam Nolan, who was the research and project director for the film, will be on hand to present and discuss the film.  --  All are welcome.  --  There will be a potluck following the film, at 5:30 p.m.  --  See below for details.[1] ...

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NEWS: US 'training' base in Anbar hasn't seen an Iraqi recruit in weeks

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Barack Obama is rushing hundreds more of "advisers" to Anbar province to train Iraqi troops, but for the last month and a half no Iraqi recruits have shown up at the Anbar base that already exists to be trained by the "advisers" who are already there, Marine Times reported Thursday.[1]  --  The news was first reported by The Hill on  Monday.[2] ...

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TRANSLATION: 'What is at stake in the age of networks' (Part 2)

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In the concluding part of an essay published in early 2015 by Pierre Bellanger, the founder of Skyrock discusses what rights should be associated with the personal data on the Internet.[1]  --  Bellanger's essay is based on the advice that France's Conseil d'État solicited from him as this high constitutional body considered the legal status of networked personal data.  --  (A link to the first part of the essay is provided below.) ...

Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2015 00:50 Read more...
 

TRANSLATION: 'What is at stake in the age of networks' (Part 1)

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A few months ago Pierre Bellanger, the founder of Skyrock, published an essay in Le Débat (Paris) discussing the data of personal networks whose existence and development is, in the first quarter of the twenty-first century, revolutionizing every aspect of human life.  --  Although we all use it, the nature of our involvement with the Internet is not generally well understood.  --  In the first part of his essay, translated below, Bellanger compares the network of data to a hologram, and argues that its nature is such that legally it constitutes a bien commun ('common good') and should be administered as a public utility.[1]  --  Bellanger's essay is based on the advice that France's Conseil d'État solicited from him as this high constitutional body considered the legal status of networked personal data....

Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2015 00:52 Read more...
 

BACKGROUND & COMMENT: Experts awakening to reality of Iraq's break-up

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McClatchy Newspapers reported Wednesday on growing pessimism among students of Middle Eastern geopolitics about the future of Iraq.[1]  --  Many doubt the country can survive, Roy Gutman said.  --  COMMENT:  Count us at UFPPC in that category; as far back as May 2007 -- eight years ago! -- we complained:  "Iraq is collapsing, but U.S. media decline to report the fact."  --  For more on how the U.S. media maintained the fiction that something called 'Iraq' still exists, see our comments on the extraordinarily insightful work of Nir Rosen....

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BACKGROUND: NYT reveals 'secret history' of SEAL Team 6's 'relentless killing'

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SEAL Team Six, the supposedly secret but actually famous U.S. Special Forces unit, "has been transformed by more than a decade of combat into a global manhunting machine," the Sunday New York Times reported.[1]  --  In "America’s new way of war, . . . conflict is distinguished not by battlefield wins and losses, but by the relentless killing of suspected militants," Mark Mazzetti, Nicholas Kulish, Christopher Drew, Serge F. Kovaleski, Sean D. Naylor, and John Ismay said.  --  Joint Special Operations Command oversees SEAL Team 6 missions, which have raised "concerns about excessive killing and civilian deaths."  --  COMMENT:  This casts a shadow upon the decision to award the 2014 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize to Eric T. Olson, the U.S. Navy admiral who was JSOC's commander from 2007 to 2011.  --  As Mark Mazzetti and his colleagues say, "the bulwark of secrecy around Team 6 makes it impossible to fully assess its record and the consequences of its actions, including civilian casualties or the deep resentment inside the countries where its members operate.  --  The missions have become embedded in American combat with little public discussion or debate."  --  How could they be understood or debated, since they are conducted under cover of the utmost secrecy?  --  For this reason, the institutionalization and routinization of Seal Team 6 are incompatible with the form of representative government most Americans still imagine they are pledging allegiance to when they salute the flag....

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 06:57 Read more...
 

NEWS: No sign of assault on Ramadi as ISIS cuts water supply to downstream towns

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Almost three weeks have passed since Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, fell to the Islamic State, but USA Today reported Thursday that a counteroffensive has "bogged down" and that there has been "no effort to drive militants from the heart of the city."[1]  --  CNN, meanwhile, reported that "ISIS has closed off a dam to the north of the Iraqi city of Ramadi . . . cutting water supplies to pro-government towns downstream and making it easier for its fighters to attack forces loyal to Baghdad . . . They added that the level of water in the Euphrates was now low enough that the river could be walked across, making it easier for ISIS militants to cross and attack the pro-government towns of Husaybah and Khalidiyah as well as the large security forces base at Habbaniya."[2] ...

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 June 2015 07:15 Read more...
 

TRANSLATION: 'The Middle East is aflame' (Henry Laurens, Collège de France)

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Though rapid-moving events have rendered his remarks a bit out-of-date, the main points made by historian Henry Laurens of the prestigious Collège de France in his discussion of the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East are just as pertinent as they were six months ago.  --  Laurens's 5,400-word interview in a recent number of Le Débat is translated below in its entirety.[1]  --  Laurens does not offer much reason to be optimistic.  --  "I've always asked Raymond Aron's question:  'What would you do if you had to decide?'  --  At the present time, I'm glad I'm not in power.  --  We're caught between a pressure to close borders that for lack of a better word can be called 'democratic' that is being massively expressed by Western societies and a humanitarian disaster of the first rank that's overwhelming our humanitarian law.  --  That law was devised for a few handful of dissident intellectuals.  --  It's not adapted to hundreds of thousands of refugees.  --  What to do?  --  I don't have the answer." ...

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ANALYSIS: No Iraqi assault to retake Ramadi any time soon

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The London Telegraph reported Sunday that according to Hadi al-Ameri, the most powerful Iraqi military leader "since the collapse of the army," the idea that the Anbar capital will be counter-attacked soon is "laughable," despite repeated statements from Iraqi political leaders.[1]  --  He blamed the United States for insisting that Shiite militias not be involved in the defense of Ramadi, and said that he would not "waste the lives of his men on a swift attempt to retake it for political reasons," Richard Spencer said.  --  Instead, Ameri is pursuing a divide-and-conquer strategy that aims gradually to "isolate individual ISIL units."  --  Ameri has two objectives he gives higher priority than retaking Ramadi:  creating a buffer protecting Iraq’s main road north to places like Samarra, site of one of the most important Shiite shrines, and cutting off a road running west across the desert to the north of Baghdad and Fallujah.  --  Ameri "said he did not know when any attempt to retake Anbar would begin."  --  According to another military analysis, the difficulties encountered in retaking Tikrit, a much easier objective, shows that a reconquest of Ramadi is at present beyond the capacity of the Iraqi forces.[2]  --  These reports came as Iraqi politicians are offering varying assessments of the status of Iraqi forces near Ramadi.[3] ...

Last Updated on Monday, 01 June 2015 06:01 Read more...
 

BACKGROUND: The situation in Ramadi as assault on Anbar capital impends

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Reuters reported that a semblance of "normality" had returned to life in Ramadi since the May 17 ISIS conquest, but that residents there expected it to be short-lived and were apprehensive about what is in store for them at the hands of their liberators:  "Our main concern is that the security forces will accuse us of supporting Daesh because we stayed in the city," said Ramadi resident Abu Omar al-Obeidi.[1]  --  There was no talk of "normality" in the London Telegraph's report on the situation in Ramadi, but instead description of revenge killings (by shooting or hanging rather than beheading, since the victims were Sunnis and not Shiites) and house destructions aimed at those who resisted ISIS.[2]  --  On Friday a U.N. official said that about 85,000 people had fled Ramadi since mid-May, and that more than 180,000 had been displaced from the city and surrounding area since early April, AFP reported.[3] ...

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NEWS: Confusing reports on Iraqi campaign to retake Ramadi

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The lead in USA Today's Friday report on the situation in Ramadi contradicts itself:  "Iraqi armed forces and militias have surrounded the provincial capital of Ramadi and are close to cutting off the Islamic State's supply lines in preparation for a counteroffensive to reclaim the city from the extremists, military officials said Friday."[1]  --  If "armed forces and militias" have "surrounded" the capital, why is it they are only "close" to cutting off supply lines?  --  On Thursday Military Times reported that no U.S.-trained Iraqi troops are involved.[2] ... 

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TRANSLATION: Deepening Mideast chaos masterfully analyzed

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In France, Myriam Benraad has recently emerged as a most perspicacious analyst of the deepening chaos of the Middle East.  --  The 34-year-old Benraad holds a doctorate from Sciences-Po and has already published three books on Iraq and its history.  --  Last month, in a brief article published in Libération (Paris) and translated below, she masterfully set forth what she called "a few tendencies that can make the complicated situation more intelligible, though they do not suffice to explain it completely."[1]  --  Chief among them:  the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the spectacular, unanticipated rise of the Islamic State.  --  Read carefully, her April 8 article seems to foresee ISIS's recent successes.  --  But no one can predict what is ahead:  "Amid millennial or reinvented antagonists, shifting strategies, weak, opportunistic alliances, and the overlapping of interested and completely irrational acts, the truth is that few can predict where the Arab-Muslim world is headed.  --  Recognizing this inability is doubtless the wisest attitude, especially given the disasters brought on by the ideological approaches to the region that have been tried in the past." ...

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TRANSLATION: Can we control predictive algorithms before they learn to control us?

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France is beginning a public-private collaboration aimed at devising algorithms to predict criminality in real time using data from social networks, the independent French news website Mediapart revealed Monday in an article translated below.  --  Among those involved in these ominous plans is Morpho, a French company that used to have its North American headquarters in Tacoma; it is now in the process of relocating to California.  --  "Machine learning" is a benign-sounding term for self-teaching predictive algorithms, a form of artificial intelligence that raises a host of important concerns, though few are aware of them.[1] ...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 05:52 Read more...
 

ANALYSIS: New 'tactical sophistication' key to recent Islamic State successes

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An analysis of Islamic State victories published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal emphasized the importance of the group's increasing "tactical sophistication."[1]  --  Margaret Cooker said that Iraqi forces in Ramadi had been "outwitted" thanks to "a complex battle plan."  --  It involved operational security demonstrating both discipline and a knowledge of their enemies' surveillance techniques as well as the improvisation of powerful new suicide weapons.  --  Meanwhile AP reported Tuesday that "Over the past year defeated Iraq security forces have repeatedly left U.S.-supplied military equipment on the battlefield, which the U.S. has targeted in subsequent airstrikes against Islamic State forces."[2]  --  "American intelligence officials have assessed for some time that Iraq is unlikely ever again to function as the multi-ethnic nation-state it once was . . . But the Obama administration has continued to pursue a 'one Iraq' policy, routing all assistance through Baghdad," Ken Dilanian said.  --  COMMENT:  Like a number of other policies adopted by the Obama administration, its Iraq strategy is dictated by American political considerations, not by the military situation in the Middle East.  --  The only plausible strategy for a successful military campaign against the Islamic State is a "diplomatic revolution" by the United States followed by military alliances against ISIS with both Iran and Syria.  --  It may come to this some day, but for the time being it would entail domestic political costs the Obama administration is unwilling to confront....

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BACKGROUND: ISIS's 'sexual jihad' takes violence against women to 'new level'

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The Islamic State has taken sexual atrocities against women "to a whole new level," Middle East Eye said Monday in presenting an interview with Zainab Bangura, a 55-year-old woman from Sierra Leone who is the United Nation Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.[1]  --  "Bangura has just returned from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, where she gathered data on I.S. sex crimes, including those against captured Yazidi women."  --  She said that after ISIS takes a village, "I.S. splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over.  --  The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity, and examined for breast size and prettiness.  --  The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.  --  There is a hierarchy:  --  sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters.  --  They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market."  --  She said the Islamic State is "institutionalizing sexual violence; the brutalisation of women and girls is central to their ideology.   --  They use sexual violence as a 'tactic of terrorism.'"  --  The Islamic State has "more than 40,000 fighters from more than 100 countries," she said.  --  It is using "the concept of jihad al-nikah, or sexual jihad -- whereby women’s bodies are used as part of supporting the I.S. campaign.  There are tens of thousands of men who expect that they will 'get' women to 'marry.'"  --  Bangura, a Muslim, has been in her post since 2012 and has worked in many countries, but said:  "I never saw anything like this.  --  I cannot understand such inhumanity."  --  Last month Human Rights Watch also called attention to "systematic rape and other sexual violence against Yezidi women and girls in northern Iraq."[2]  --  "Human Rights Watch documented a system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS forces."  --  The victimized women suffer "unimaginable trauma," HRW said, noting that "In October 2014, ISIS acknowledged in its publication *Dabiq* that its fighters had given captured Yezidi women and girls to its fighters as 'spoils of war.'  --  ISIS has sought to justify sexual violence claiming that Islam permits sex with non-Muslim 'slaves,' including girls, as well as beating and selling them.  --  The statements are further evidence of a widespread practice and a systematic plan of action by ISIS, Human Rights Watch said." ...

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Meeting schedule

United for Peace of Pierce County meets 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma (621 Tacoma Avenue South).

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