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Lowe, Chan – Color Editorial Cartoon – 20180330edloc-a.tif

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 07:42 AM PDT

LOWE; TRUMP; SATAN; EVANGELICAL SUPPORT; GOP; RACIST AGENDA

Handelsman, Walt – Editorial Cartoon – 20180330edhan-a.tif

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 07:37 AM PDT

HANDELSMAN; NCAA BRACKET; CHINA; SPACE STATION; CRASH LANDING

Cardi B Drops a Warning to Cheating Fiance in New Single, ‘Be Careful’ (Listen)

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 06:47 AM PDT

Just a week ahead of her official debut, Cardi B has dropped a new song called “Be Careful” that is apparently a warning to her allegedly unfaithful fiancé, Offset of Migos. While a lot of the lyrics can’t be reprinted in a family publication, a gentle version of the song’s theme is in the chorus: “Be careful with me, do you know what you’re doing? Whose feelings that you’re hurting and bruising? You gonna gain the whole world, but is it worth the girl that you’re losing?” she sings on the chorus. “Yeah, it’s not a threat, it’s a warning.”

There’s also a cute reference to TLC’s 1994 infidelity-themed hit “Creep” in the opening lyrics that set the song’s tone: “I gave you TLC, you wanna creep and sh-?/ I poured out my whole heart to a piece of sh-.”

Cardi’s debut studio album, “Invasion of Privacy,” is due on April 6, with an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” the following night and her Coachella debut the following two weekends. While information about the album has been kept under wraps for months despite a constant barrage of questions — and she’s been teasing a number of songs on her Instagram account without revealing titles — it’s safe to assume that the new single will be on it, as well the rapper’s breakout hit “Bodak Yellow” and its follow-up, “Bartier Cardi.” She has released two mixtapes to date, “Gangsta Bitch Music” volumes 1 and 2 in 2016 and 2017 respectively, and has made a host of guest appearances on songs and on television, most recently Migos‘ “MotorSport” and Bruno Mars’ “Finesse,” which she performed with him on the Grammy Awards earlier this year.

Earlier this week Variety broke the news that Cardi has new management in Quality Control’s Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “Pee” Thomas, Variety has learned. She joins Migos and Lil Yachty on the QC roster of star acts. The Atlanta-based management company and record label has seen stratospheric success in recent years modeling its business after such game-changing entities as Cash Money and No Limit.

 

Egyptian Producer Mohamed Hefzy Appointed Cairo Film Festival President (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 06:24 AM PDT

ROME — Egyptian independent producer Mohamed Hefzy has been appointed president of the Cairo Film Festival with a mandate to revamp and relaunch the prominent Arab fest which has been losing luster due to political turbulence, terrorism, and the recent launch of a rival event in a Red Sea resort.

Hefzy, 43, is the youngest president in the Cairo fest’s 40-edition history and the first chosen from within the country’s film industry ranks. He replaces critic Magda Wasef, while critic and academic Youssef Sherif Rizkalla remains the fest’s artistic director.

“It’s a big responsibility…there is a lot that needs to be improved,” he said. Hefzy added that he had not expected Egyptian Culture Minister Ines Abdel-Dayem — a former Cairo Opera House chairwoman appointed minister in January — to pick him for the challenging task, but noted that they “share a very similar vision for how the festival can find its footing and regain its strength.”

Hefzy’s Film Clinic shingle has produced a steady output of well-received, often edgy, Egyptian titles in recent years that have circulated internationally, such as Mohamed Diab’s thriller “Clash,” set inside a police paddy wagon during the country’s 2013 street protests, and “Sheikh Jackson,” about an Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist cleric with a secret passion for the music of Michael Jackson, directed by Amr Salama.

He said his top priority is to “really develop” the Cairo fest’s film market side which used to be a key component of the oldest fest in the Arab and African worlds, member of international fest org, FIAPF. Egyptian film critic Samir Farid scrapped the Cairo film market when he took the reins in 2014 after a period of hiatus following Egypt’s 2011 revolution.

The Cairo Film Connection co-production platform was subsequently reinstated in 2016, but then disappeared again.

“I’m not saying that we are going to have a full-on market the first year [of my mandate], but this is something we definitely need to do in the future,” Hefzy said.

Another priority is to put the fest firmly back on the international circuit. Last year “it just felt like it was more for local consumption,” Hefzy noted. He now really wants to send out the message “that this festival is international, that we care about cinema from all over the world.”

A big problem on the international front has been that “because of the revolution and the security situation for the past several years…a lot of foreign guests have been scared to come to Cairo,” Hefzy said.

“But,” he added “I think that’s changing now, I think Cairo is becoming safe. Tourism is back and the hotels are full.”

Regarding competition from the ambitious new El Gouna Film Festival, which launched last year on the banks of the Red Sea, and from the Dubai fest which has risen to become the top dog, Hefzy admitted “it’s going to be really tough” to lure away premiers of Arabic films and Middle East launches of top notch international fare, especially the first year.

But Hefzy is confident that the appeal of Cairo’s sophisticated metropolitan audience combined with the reinstated market component, and the fact that “Egypt still has the strongest film industry in the region” will prompt the fest to attract “some of the best films out there” by the end of his three-year mandate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigeria’s Troubling Counterinsurgency Strategy Against Boko Haram

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 06:19 AM PDT

The kidnapping of 110 schoolgirls from Dapchi last month is the latest event to cast doubt on the Nigerian government’s claims that Boko Haram has been technically defeated. Unfortunately, the attack should have come as no surprise. Since 2015, the jihadist group has lost significant territorial control and no longer holds major cities. But as I saw during my fieldwork in Nigeria in January, the jihadist threat is far from gone, and counterinsurgency policies continue to be troubled and troubling.

Since 2009, Boko Haram has waged a brutal insurgency in northeastern Nigeria and neighboring countries. Both its violent jihad and the Nigerian government’s and militias’ counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, the prolonged detention and disappearance of tens of thousands more, and the displacement of over two million. There has also been massive economic devastation in an already exceedingly poor and underdeveloped region. Even in comparison with other Islamist jihadist groups, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan or al Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram stands out in its predatory behavior and failure to deliver the most rudimentary public services to the communities it controls.

Boko Haram caused 3,329 deaths in 2017, far fewer than the more than 11,500 attributed to the group during the peak of its activities in 2015, but only slightly less than the 3,484 deaths connected to the group in 2016. Moreover, the number of “violent incidents” instigated by the group in 2017 rose to 500 from 417 in 2016. Although Boko Haram no longer appears able to mass militants and dislodge entire battalions of the Nigerian military, the latter has been struggling to establish effective control in the cleared areas, some of which the group has overrun anew. The insurgency remains highly active in the Bama and Gwoza local government areas, where some 80 percent of former residents remain in internally displaced person (IDP) camps. In major cities and towns, including Maiduguri, there is widespread belief that Boko Haram informants are everywhere. This belief is exacerbated by previous incidents of Boko Haram donning police or military uniforms and then killing those who volunteered information on the group. Travel among cities and towns, even on major roads, is possible mostly only under escort by the Nigerian military, both because Boko Haram ambushes have continued and because the Nigerian military does not often permit independent movement.

Most of the displaced have been afraid to return to their destroyed villages. The overstretched Nigerian military lacks the effective capacity to hold them, and police units are largely absent. Earlier in northern Adamawa State, Nigerian authorities, including the National Emergency Management Agency, persuaded some IDPs to return to their villages. But they provided no protection. The following day, Boko Haram killed the returnees.

THE NIGERIAN MILITARY’S BRUTALITY

Another complicating factor in the struggle against Boko Haram is that the Nigerian military and police have themselves been sources of insecurity, dislocation, widespread human rights abuses, and radicalization. Much of the counterinsurgency strategy before 2015 involved communal punishment of entire villages suspected of harboring Boko Haram militants or having fallen under Boko Haram rule. In such so-called clearing operations, villagers who did not manage to flee to the bush were randomly killed on suspicion of being Boko Haram members, while others, including women and children, were dragged off to detention en masse. Even those who were not detained in the clearing operation were often forcibly evicted by the military, without prior notice or an opportunity to take their belongings. The burning of houses, shops, cars, and other private property in villages and towns by the military was also commonplace before 2015.

The result has been the wiping out of entire communities. According to Amnesty International, between 2009 and 2015, Nigerian military forces arbitrarily arrested at least 20,000, including children as young as nine. Cases of extrajudicial killings and torture by Nigerian military and police forces are also widespread, with more than 1,000 taking place from 2013 to 2014, sometimes hundreds a day. On March 14, 2014, in retaliation for a Boko Haram attack on the Giwa barracks in Maiduguri (one of the largest detention centers holding members of the group), the Nigerian military slaughtered some 640 boys and men, most of them recaptured detainees.

Since 2015, the brutality of the Nigerian military seems to have lessened for several reasons. One is the exposure of the violations by international human rights groups and local civil society nongovernmental organizations. Another is that under the new leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, clearing operations have decreased, thus providing fewer opportunities to commit violations. Yet the Nigerian forces still engage in mass detentions in new areas they liberate, albeit less visibly since they clear increasingly more distant rural spaces.

The state response to Boko Haram remains flawed in other key ways. Consider its approach to intelligence. The Nigerian military and police have been partnering with local militias, such as the Civilian Joint Task Force, and relying on them and paid informants to find out who is a Boko Haram member. CJTF claims are often the dominant, if not sole, basis for raids and arrests, yet such intelligence is often completely unreliable, unverified, and random, motivated merely by desire for further financial payments or as a means of revenge for previous perceived grievances against local rivals.

Apart from their disastrous humanitarian consequences, Nigeria’s policies to “starve the enemy” allow local military units to integrate themselves and dominate local economic markets and activities. The military now prohibits growing tall crops (among which Boko Haram could hide) and controls fishing activities, travel on certain roads, and access to the markets, often collecting illegal tolls and rents. It demands that merchants buy fish only from fishermen and traders it certifies, justifying such control of access to the economy by the need to deprive Boko Haram of resources. Although cattle rustling is mostly attributed to Boko Haram, there is widespread belief in communities such as Maiduguri that both the Nigerian military and the CJTF have become increasingly involved in that racket as well, with stolen cattle finding their way into Maiduguri’s market.

THE FUTURE OF THE MILITIAS

The extensive presence of anti-Boko Haram militias in Nigeria’s northeast is a further complicating factor. Some local residents I spoke with still see the militias as “heroes,” “saviors,” and “champions.” During the early insurgency years, CJTF members at times were the only actors standing up to Boko Haram and providing some protection to local populations. Yet they have also become a source of insecurity, and the multifaceted threats they pose are likely to increase.

Although the Borno State attorney general nominally supervises the militias, there is no formal leader of the CJTF, which by its own estimates has between 25,000 and 27,000 members. They are stratified into three levels. A group of some 2,000 who had been recruited from within the CJTF and trained, armed, and paid 20,000 naira (approximately $56) per month by the Nigerian government are now referred to as Borno Youth Empowerment Schemes, or BOYES. A second level, the Borno State Youth Vanguard, has been armed by the government but has not been paid or trained. This group probably also numbers in the low thousands, although no clear data are available. Many members of this group are frustrated by their status and seek to be “promoted” to the BOYES category so they can get on the government’s payroll. The rest, the vast majority of the militias, have not received arms or training from the government, nor are they being formally paid. Many within this last level of the militia are similarly dissatisfied with their status, as they perceive their contribution to the counterinsurgency fight to be as important as those of the other two groups. Even commanders who are members of BOYES often seek greater benefits than they are receiving, and the commanders of the two lower-ranked units are growing even angrier that their contributions are not being adequately acknowledged and compensated by the state.

Because the Nigerian government simply does not have enough resources to train these militias and put them on the government payroll, there is a significant chance that the rivalries among the groups may give rise to violence and that at least some of the militias may resort to predation, extortion, and criminality. Nominally, a village elder is supposed to approve any new CJTF member; but when one such village elder was questioned about the process, he said he had never rejected any candidate or heard of rejections in other villages. The village elders themselves may be highly vulnerable to CJTF pressure. In some places, CJTF members have started to arrogate power and influence to themselves, openly questioning the authority of traditional and village leaders, pointing out that traditional authorities ran away or were not able to protect communities from Boko Haram. These patterns of the weakness of supervision and susceptibility to collusion occur frequently with militias elsewhere, such as in Afghanistan.

Increasingly, the CJTF has taken it upon itself to punish petty crimes, such as the passing of fake bills (an ever-present problem in Nigeria), even as its members and units themselves may be involved in criminality. Some CJTF units have also begun to enforce family codes-flogging wives and husbands for social conduct violations. Some units have started holding trials for the accused, though the quality of evidence, procedures, and judgments is questionable and transparency is lacking. This is generating some friction between communities and local CJTF units.

And ominously, local leaders appear interested in appropriating CJTF units for political purposes. Some politicians are handing out money and drugs to CJTF members; in one case, a CJTF commander even received a car. And as the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections approach, the political usefulness of CJTF securing votes and donations for candidates will only grow. “If the government does not give us a job after the insurgency has ended, we can become insurgents ourselves, we are armed,” one CJTF member told me in an interview. Controlling, disarming, and dismantling the militias will have a fundamental effect on whether the Boko Haram insurgency will be brought to an end or whether militancy in the northeast will merely mutate.

A MORE INSIDIOUS THREAT?

As a result of its brutality, particularly mass killings of fellow Muslims and attacks on mosques, and its total lack of provision of services to local populations, Boko Haram suffered two major instances of fragmentation: one in 2012 when a branch split off, forming the militant group Ansaru, and the other in 2016 when Abu Musab al-Barnawi declared himself to be the true leader of the Islamic State (or ISIS) in Nigeria. (Boko Haram had claimed allegiance to ISIS a year earlier.)

The local ISIS chapter, in particular, has clearly been trying to differentiate itself from Boko Haram, present a gentler face, and build a more legitimate state project. So far, it has been very discriminating in attacking only military and government targets and has tried to avoid civilian casualties. It has also started to provide a variety of services, such as transporting women to the hospital, in communities where no such assistance previously existed. In Yobe State, ISIS’ strength has increased rapidly, with the group taking over alluvial plains, controlling rivers, and taxing fishing.

ISIS thus poses a more insidious and perhaps more long-lasting threat to the region. This is all the more ominous as official systems of governance in Nigeria remain extraordinarily weak and often revolve around extralegal rent seeking. The state has made little effort to address legitimate grievances, allowing violent movements to justify their rebellions. In large parts of northeastern Nigeria over the past seven years, and for decades in many parts of the greater country, state corruption and neglect have meant that local populations have seen little if any state-provided public goods and services, whether it’s schools, infrastructure, health care, or electricity. Significant flows of international economic resources to northeastern Nigeria have not helped alleviate the situation, as most aid has of necessity been devoted to the more immediate humanitarian purpose of countering large-scale famine in 2016 and 2017 and severe levels of ongoing food insecurity.

THE WAY FORWARD

In order to effectively counter Boko Haram in the long term, the Nigerian military and the anti-Boko Haram militias need to stop being the sources of radicalization themselves. The Nigerian military’s policies-rounding up liberated villages en masse, prolonged detention in awful conditions, extrajudicial killings and massacres, and reliance solely on informal militias to identify and arrest Boko Haram members-are illegal and fundamentally alienate the military’s victims from the Nigerian state. So far, Nigerian society has failed to demand badly needed accountability from the military and militias and address the plight of victims.

Organizing a broad-based societal dialogue about these processes is an essential first step. Creating disarmament, demobilization, justice, accountability, and reconciliation processes for armed actors beyond Boko Haram, including for CJTF, is also crucial. Finally, Nigeria must develop the wherewithal to start genuinely addressing the underlying root causes of conflict, such as corruption and the lack of accountability of political leaders and the underdevelopment of Nigeria’s northeast. By radically changing its counterinsurgency policies and making them consistent with human rights norms, the Nigerian government will not only more effectively counter Boko Haram but also have a chance to finally start overcoming its own legacy of citizen abuse and neglect.

This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.

Pickup Trucks: March Sales Should Set Records

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 06:01 AM PDT

Sales forecasters are expecting new-vehicle sales for March to be among some of the best in more than 15 years. According to Automotive News(subscription required), several automotive analysts are anticipating a strong month-over-month increase largely due to the fact there is one more selling day and weekend in March 2018 when compared to March 2017.

Of special note, some experts who keep track of incentive spending are seeing Ford putting more money on the hood to better compete with the new 2019 Ram 1500and 2019 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500s, which are getting lots of media attention. The 2019 Ram and Silverado are on sale now; the 2019 Sierra will go on sale in the fall. Depending on where you live, there are some great deals on previous-generation Ram 1500s both in the U.S. and Canada as the automaker works to sell down old inventory to make room for the all-new vehicles.

Many experts seem to think that economic headwinds are coming despite consumer confidence remaining strong. Whether that will negatively impact the pickup truck market, which has so many new options in the pipeline, remains to be seen as we head into the traditionally strong-selling summer months.

Cars.com photos by Mark Williams


NCAA March Madness: Twitter to Stream Final Four Weekend ‘Watch Parties’

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 06:00 AM PDT

What’s the next best thing to live-streaming actual 2018 NCAA March Madness Final Four games? For Twitter, it’s hosting a live video and chat hub with video commentary and real-time tweets for hoops fans to follow during the men’s college basketball championship.

Twitter, in partnership with Turner Sports, the NCAA and CBS Sports, on Saturday is tipping off the 2018 NCAA March Madness Men’s Final Four weekend with the launch of Final Four Watch Parties. The “live social-viewing experience” on Twitter, comprising analyst commentary, reactions and highlights from the games, will be produced by Turner Sports from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Of course, what Twitter would really love is to have live-streaming rights to the NCAA March Madness contests. Those belong to Turner and CBS, who are paying a bundle for them.

TBS is broadcasting Saturday’s semifinals and the April 2 National Championship. The games will be available through the Turner-operated NCAA March Madness Live service, including the NCAA’s website and 16 device platforms, available to subscribers of participating pay-TV providers.

However, the Final Four Watch Parties are an example of Twitter is able to monetize major events even if it doesn’t have broadcast rights: The Twitter “second-screen” feed is exclusively sponsored by burger chain Wendy’s.

The March Madness Final Four Watch Parties will stream live on Twitter starting Saturday, March 31, at 6 p.m. ET to coincide with the first game of the evening — pitting Michigan against supreme underdogs Loyola Chicago (only the fourth No. 11 seed to advance to the Final Four). That will be followed by the matchup of two No. 1 seeds, Kansas and Villanova, slated to tip 40 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. Twitter’s party will continue on Monday, April 2, at 9 p.m. ET for the National Championship game.

Twitter’s Final Four Watch Parties are positioned as a “companion” to TBS’s broadcasts. The Twitter hub will feature commentary from college basketball analysts Brendan Haywood, Candace Parker, NCAA.com‘s Andy Katz, and reporters Allie LaForce and Dana Jacobson. The analysts will be in a booth and the video live-stream will be of them reacting and tweeting along with fans. Twitter also is teasing appearances by “surprise special guests.”

The Final Four Watch Parties will be available exclusively on Twitter to logged-in and logged-out users globally via live.twitter.com/ffwatchparties and via the NCAA’s official @marchmadness Twitter account.

Twitter’s live viewing parties will include sponsored content from Wendy’s — “the official hamburger of the NCAA” — and the fast-food chain also will have branding prominently featured on the social service.

Selena Gomez and her mum don’t talk about Justin Bieber

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 05:00 AM PDT

Selena Gomez doesn’t talk to her mum about her on/off relationship with Justin Bieber.

The ‘Come And Get It’ singer’s rollercoaster romance with the ‘Sorry’ hitmaker is said to have ended recently, but her mother Mandy Teefey has suggested she would be the last one to know what the situation is right now.

Asked by E! News for an update on her 25-year-old daughter’s relationship with the 24-year-old pop star, she simply replied: “You would know before I did. We don’t talk about it.”

It comes after reports claiming despite the apparent split, Justin still has his former flame on his mind.

An insider told People: “He isn’t dating. He thinks and talks about Selena all the time. The chapter with her is definitely not finished.”

Although he has made an effort to develop a better relationship with Selena’s friends and family – but they’re not convinced he’s a suitable boyfriend.

The insider added: “Justin does care what her friends and family think and has tried to win them over, but some of them are just over it. They’re there for Selena and support her no matter what, but don’t feel like they need to welcome back Justin.

“If you notice, Selena keeps her friends and Justin separate – when she’s with Justin, it’s just Justin, and when she’s with her old friends, it’s just them. They don’t really overlap anymore.”

Selena’s mother has previously questioned whether Justin, 24, is a suitable boyfriend for her daughter.

And the ‘Wolves’ hitmaker is said to be focused on rebuilding her relationship with Mandy.

The source told Entertainment Tonight: “She wants to repair her relationship with her mother, that’s a priority for her, too.”

Katy Perry loves Orlando Bloom’s washboard abs

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 05:00 AM PDT

Katy Perry loves Orlando Bloom’s “washboard” abs.

The ‘Dark Horse’ hitmaker couldn’t help but gush about her boyfriend’s amazing figure as he uploaded a shirtless selfie to Instagram on Thursday (03.29.18).

He captioned the snap: “#tbt capetown ‘Brian fit’ for #zulumovie this photo saved not JUST for vanity 🤣 but as a lil reminder that I got to that place and I know how to get to that place when I need to go to that place … diet-lifting-hours of #nopainnogain and a #mindfulness presence and #focus that just won’t settle … nothing but respect for those who can maintain it I try to stay close which is good because im heading back in that direction for Killer Joe soon to be at the @trafalgarstudios 18th may (sic)”

With Katy commenting underneath it: “Oh hey! I was actually looking for a washboard to be me laundry on.”

It comes after a source revealed Katy and Orlando are ready to “give their love a second chance”.

The source said: “The time they spend together alone is a way for them to build a new healthy relationship that is not under the eyes of their fans and the world. They both live very busy lives and have carefully made a plan to give their love a second chance.

“Katy was so depressed when they broke up, even though it was mutual. She was truly devastated … She did a lot of soul searching and feels she is ready for a relationship. Orlando was begging [for] her back, soon after the breakup. Katy knew she was in no way ready, but they continued to talk regularly. They were best friends at the very least.”

Sam Smith’s crippling anxiety

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 05:00 AM PDT

Sam Smith’s anxiety almost ruined his performance at the Grammys.

Despite his worldwide success, the 25-year-old singer admitted his nerves still get the better of him when he’s performing his “personal” hits and whilst he thought he would have “more control” over his anxiety when on tour, but it consumes him to the point of suffering panic attacks.

He said: “The other night – the opening night, at Sheffield – I was shaking, it’s a vulnerable feeling. I thought I would be OK by now but my music is so personal, I feel like an open wound. I am more nervous now than on my first tour. I get massive anxiety. I really struggle, I was so nervous at the Grammys this year. I thought I would be more in control of my body and emotions but I get so nervous, to the point I’m almost having panic attacks.”

But the ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’ singer has people he loves around him to help get him back on track and tell him to stop being a “drama queen”.

He told The Sun newspaper: “Sometimes I need people who I love around me to tell me, ‘Pull yourself together, you’re being a drama queen – it’s too much now, Sam, so rein it in'”.

After a successful 2017, Sam decided to quit drinking and start meditating to help keep him calm as he embarks on his The Thrill Of it All tour.

He explained: “A lot of The Thrill Of It was about my emotional reaction to fame, there were ups and downs. Burning is about feeling you are not in control. It’s about the self-destructive element – I was going out drinking way too much. Of course, you want to celebrate that these amazing things have happened but you can’t celebrate all the time.

“I’ve been completely off the booze for three weeks now. I never want to make promises but being sober is something I’m interested in. When I don’t drink and I’m not smoking cigarettes, when I’m completely clean, I feel so focused and happy. My anxiety levels and mental health went through a shaky period at Christmas. But I’ve started meditating now, I am not drinking, I am trying to look after my mental health.”