But my answer is always the same when I’m asked what outcome I prefer: either result will be the correct one. We’re a pretty canny bunch and don’t suffer fools, so we’ll see through the political game playing and make an informed decision. I know the day I return home to live there I will be safe in the knowledge that we, as a people, decided the shape of our own future. Not many generations get the chance to say that.

Gavin Quirk - a Scottish expat living in Los Angeles

The polls have closed and the decision, whichever it is, has been made in Scotland’s referendum. Keep up here on the Guardian and the BBC — although it’s going to be a bit of a wait. The final result probably won’t be until the AM (in Scotland). 

The Narcicyst’s new track “7amith 7ilu (Bittersweet) - ft. DAM.” 

Best ever or best ever?

Definitely the best ever. 

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
More than 5000 people have died in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the last 9 months, according to the AP’s tally. The AP admits this is probably only a portion of the real number.
About 1500 more UN troops will head to CAR next week.
CAR is the crisis that never makes headlines.
Libya has accused Sudan of sending weapons to Islamists in Tripoli and expelled the Sudanese military attache.
The UN helicopter that crashed in South Sudan last month was shot down.
Peacekeepers in Somalia used their hospital connections to target vulnerable women and girls for sexual assault and rape.
With the killing of Al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane has been confirmed, the group chose a new leader — Ahmad Umar.
Drone footage surveys the extent of damage in Gaza. 
Israel has ordered investigation into five incidents during the latest Gaza war, including the deaths of the four boys playing soccer on the beach.
CrisisGroup analyzes the importance of Aleppo in the Syrian civil war.
The largest Syrian rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, lost nearly all of its leadership in an unexplained explosion.
BuzzFeed profiles a smuggler who has brought thousands of foreign fighters into Syria. 
The Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda linked Syrian group, has released 45 peacekeepers.
Yemen is pursuing talks with the Houthi rebels.
A transcript of President Obama’s remarks on ISIS and strategy from Wednesday.
And… Obama, airstrikes and that tricky War Powers Act.
The Pentagon is authorized to proceed with leadership targeting as a tactic against ISIS, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at the top of the hit list. 
Partnerships against ISIS bring their own complications.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces make advances against ISIS with the help of US airstrikes.
The Washington Post keeps a running tally of US strikes against ISIS.
Looking at the legal rationale offered up by the administration for conducting strikes in Syria.
A more in-depth look at what was on the ISIS laptop obtained by journalists. 
ISIS may have taken anti-tank weapons from Syrian rebels.
Tim Arango, the Baghdad Bureau Chief for the New York Times did a Reddit AMA.
In the thirteen years (this week) since the 9/11 attacks, how has al-Qaeda changed? It has been weakened but it hasn’t been defeated.
The Iraqi parliament approved a new government headed by Haider al-Abadi.
Qatar confirms the detention of two British men researching migrant labor issues.
Afghanistan’s election results are likely coming next week. 
Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has already said he will not accept the official results. 
Pakistan is digging a trench along the border with Afghanistan.
Imran Khan marks a month of protests — demonstrations which have wearied Pakistan’s capital city.
Luhansk counts its dead.
Russia still has 1000 troops in Ukraine and 20,000 at the border.
The EU tightens Russia sanctions.
Mexican journalist Karla Silva was savagely beaten for her critical reporting.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says the declassified CIA torture report might not be released until November.
We already know, though, that CIA waterboarding of top terrorism suspects involved “holding them underwater until the point of death.”
Zelda, the Dear Abby of the NSA.
In 2008, Yahoo! ended its legal battle against complying with the PRISM program because the government threatened a $250,000/day non-compliance fine. 
An appeals court ruled that Jose Padilla’s 17-year sentence was too lenient and revised it to 21 years.
Crowdsourcing a catalogue of all the guns of World War One. 
Photo: Bambari, Central African Republic. June 2014. A Moroccan peacekeeper with the UN’s MINUSCA peacekeeping force on patrol. Catianne Tijerina/UN.

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

Photo: Bambari, Central African Republic. June 2014. A Moroccan peacekeeper with the UN’s MINUSCA peacekeeping force on patrol. Catianne Tijerina/UN.

afp-photo:

BAHRAIN, Jannusan : An blindfolded Bahraini protester holds up a placard bearing the portrait of jailed photographer Ahmed Humaidan during an anti-government protest in the village of Jannusan, west of Manama, on September 5, 2014. “Ongoing violations of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and the targeting of human rights activists in Bahrain remain of serious concern,” Ravina Shamdasani, the spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH

afp-photo:

BAHRAIN, Jannusan : An blindfolded Bahraini protester holds up a placard bearing the portrait of jailed photographer Ahmed Humaidan during an anti-government protest in the village of Jannusan, west of Manama, on September 5, 2014. “Ongoing violations of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and the targeting of human rights activists in Bahrain remain of serious concern,” Ravina Shamdasani, the spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
ISIS murdered a second journalist this week — Steven Sotloff, a freelancer whose life they threatened in their propaganda video of James Foley’s beheading.
Read some of Sotloff’s excellent reporting at Foreign Policy and at TIME.
The head of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon, asks whether it’s time to end media blackouts on kidnapped journalists like Sotloff and Foley.
Photographers William Daniels, Pierre Terdjman and Michaël Zumstein want to continue their work covering conflict in the Central African Republic but are stymied by lack of international interest. 
Armed ex-Seleka rebels stormed the town of Nana Bakassa in northern CAR, kiling at least 5.
More than 26.000 people fled the town of Bama in northeastern Nigeria after Boko Haram seized it. A Nigerian lawmaker says that Boko Haram now patrol Bama’s streets, still littered with bodies days later.
The US is preparing a major border security program in Nigeria.
Afonso Dhlakama, the rebel leader of Renamo in Mozambique, has come out of hiding — returning to the capital, Maputo, to mark a symbolic end to a two-year conflict.
A US airstrike in Somalia killed six members of Al-Shabab, possibly including leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. Al-Shabab has confirmed that Godane was in one of the vehicles struck, but has refused to say whether he was killed.
American and AU forces step up the offensive against Al-Shabab.
Somalia’s government offers Al-Shabab amnesty.
Activists in Egypt and Bahrain, sentenced for their role in protests and human rights activism, turn to hunger strikes.
Libya braces for civil war.
Israel announced plans to take a nearly 1000 acre tract of West Bank land for Jewish settlers, the largest land appropriation in the last three decades. The US has strongly condemned the plan.
Archaeologists rush to save Syrian landmarks.
Education is indefinitely on hold for Syria’s “lost generation.”
Evidence that ISIS is using cluster munitions.
Iraqi forces have captured the first Chinese citizen known to have been fighting with ISIS.
A Yazidi girl tells of her kidnapping and escape from ISIS captors in Iraq.
350 more American troops will be deployed to Iraq.
Iraqi forces broke the ISIS siege of Amerli.
50 men have been kidnapped by ISIS militants from Tal Ali village, 170 miles north of Baghdad.
28,000 pro-ISIS Twitter accounts have been set up since James Foley’s murder.
Human Rights Watch has new evidence that ISIS massacred Iraqi soldiers, between 560 and 770 of them, at Camp Speicher in June.
Two British-Nepali human rights advocates have gone missing in Qatar after arriving there last week to look into the condition of Nepalese migrant workers.
Human rights activist Maryam Al-Khawaja was detained by Bahrain upon entering the country to try and see her imprisoned father.
Kate Clark at the Afghanistan Analysts Network patches together the first list of detainees at Bagram.
Avoidable miscommunication blamed for a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan in June.
Artist Richard Johnson will cover the Afghan war for the Washington Post.
The Taliban is running low on foreign fighters. 
Pakistan says the military has killed 910 militants since the start of its offensive in Waziristan in June.
Al Qaeda establishes a new branch on the Indian subcontinent.
Ukraine, Russia and pro-Russian separatists are set for talks in Belarus this afternoon, but shelling continues in eastern Ukraine (see photo).
More dispatches from Vice News in Ukraine - this time from Novoazovsk, where they found “found terrified civilians trapped in the shelling, along with desperate Ukrainian forces angry at their lack of reinforcement from their leaders in Kiev.”
A Russian photojournalist for the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency, Andrei Stenin, has been killed in Ukraine. 
The Beslan school siege, ten years on.
NATO gathers for its annual summit this week, with a rather extraordinary amount on its plate and Afghanistan taking a backseat.
September 3rd was the anniversary of Britain and France’s declaration of war on Germany.
This week marked the 20th anniversary of the 1994 IRA ceasefire in Northern Ireland. Here are photographs from Northern Ireland then and now.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of the government’s mass data collection programs.
Click here to donate to the Committee to Protect Journalists in Steven Sotloff’s name.
Photo: The outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine. Sept. 4. Philip Desmazes/AFP/Getty.

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

Click here to donate to the Committee to Protect Journalists in Steven Sotloff’s name.

Photo: The outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine. Sept. 4. Philip Desmazes/AFP/Getty.

It’s hard to watch the video of Steven Sotloff’s last moments and not conclude something similar: the ostensible objective of securing an Islamic state is nowhere near as important as killing people. For the guys who signed up for ISIS—including, especially, the masked man with the English accent who wielded the knife—killing is the real point of being there. Last month, when ISIS forces overran a Syrian Army base in the city of Raqqa, they beheaded dozens of soldiers and displayed their trophies on bloody spikes. “Here are heads that have ripened, that were ready for the plucking,” an ISIS fighter said in narration. Two soldiers were crucified. This sounds less like a battle than like some kind of macabre party.
Dexter Filkins on Steven Sotloff’s murder and some of the real reasons why ISIS, like Al Qaeda before them, chooses to revel in the brutality of their methods.

Reports have come in that ISIS has now also beheaded American journalist Steven Sotloff

… and threatened the life of Briton David Cawthorne Haines. 

To honor Sotloff, a man who reported on civilian suffering in dangerous circumstances with a lot of compassion, read a selection of his work here at Foreign Policy and at TIMEAlso consider a donation in his honor to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Rest in peace.

Today’s the 20th anniversary of the 1994 IRA ceasefire. 
And from the BBC — Northern Ireland then and now.
[Irish Times front page from 1994 via @ElaineEdwardsIT on Twitter.]

Today’s the 20th anniversary of the 1994 IRA ceasefire. 

And from the BBC — Northern Ireland then and now.

[Irish Times front page from 1994 via @ElaineEdwardsIT on Twitter.]

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
Representatives for two rebel groups in Mali agreed to end hostilities and join together for peace talks with the government next month.
Riek Machar’s rebel group in South Sudan have rejected a power-sharing deal.
Vice reports on weapons moving into South Sudan.
17 were killed in in-fighting among factions of the Seleka rebel group in the Central African Republic.
Abdullah al-Thinni has resigned as Libya’s prime minister in an attempt to end a power struggle. 
Egypt and the UAE have secretly carried out airstrikes in Libya.
An indefinite ceasefire was brokered between Israel and Gaza.
Scenes from on the ground in Gaza and Israel — captured by photographers Paolo Pellegrin and Peter van Agtmael.
The UN says that 3 million people have fled Syria in the current conflict, and another 6.5 million have been internally displaced.
American journalist Peter Theo Curtis, who has published under the name Theo Padnos, was released from captivity in Syria this week. He was held by the Nusra Front.
His release was secured with the help of Qatar, who are continuing to try to negotiate the release of other Western hostages — one of whom is now known to be an American aid worker held by ISIS.
Steve Coll on the kidnapping of journalists.
ISIS captives, including James Foley, were waterboarded.
Evan Hill remembers his correspondence with Foley.
The mother of captive journalist Steven Sotloff has released a video plea to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for her son’s freedom.
Ben Hubbard and Eric Schmitt report on ISIS’s management and organizational structure.
One piece of reporting indicates that there is support among non-extremist rebels in Syria for US action against ISIS, saying that ISIS has “ravaged” Syria and hijacked their revolution.
Public beheadings have become a “common spectacle" in Syria, according to the UN.
Two journalists acquired an ISIS laptop — full of “how-tos” for weaponizing the bubonic plague, among other things.
A 33-year-old US citizen — Douglas McCain — was killed fighting for ISIS in Syria. US intelligence has reportedly identified almost a dozen Americans who have similarly traveled abroad to join ISIS.
43 UN peacekeepers are being held by an armed group in Syrian Golan Heights.
Mapping ISIS’ development and expansion in Syria and Iraq.
In Iraq, ISIS is accused of ethnic cleansing in a prison massacre in Mosul where 670 Shia prisoners were reportedly killed.
US airstrikes in Iraq, day by day.
Armed Yemeni rebels staged sit ins this week outside the capital city, Sanaa, protesting the government.
An ongoing, bloody Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan has killed as many as 900 in some of the “worst fighting” in years.
Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election is costing the country ‘s economy $5bn. 
PM Sharif has been named by Pakistani police as a murder suspect in the deaths of 14 protesters near Lahore in June.
Thousands of Pakistani demonstrators, lead by Tahir ul-Qadri and Imran Khan, have camped out in front of parliament in Islamabad since mid-August demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down. Pakistan’s army chief has now been named mediator in the crisis.
Russia has opened up a new offensive in Ukraine and NATO has accused Russia of “blatant violation" of Ukrainian sovereignty.
Ukrainian soldiers coming out of Novoazovsk say they were “cannon fodder" for Russian tanks.
Ukraine’s prime minister announced the country’s renewed intentions to join NATO.
In photos: what remains of Donetsk.
The debate over Russia’s invasion/incursion plays out, of course, on Twitter.
Obama announced executive actions to benefit veterans, soldiers and military families.
The prosecution rests in the Blackwater trial.
Photo: Donetsk, Ukraine. A damaged and bloody kitchen in downtown Donetsk. Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA.

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

Photo: Donetsk, Ukraine. A damaged and bloody kitchen in downtown Donetsk. Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA.

BREAKING: American journalist Peter Theo Curtis has reportedly been released from captivity in Syria.
After disappearing in October of 2012, Curtis was apparently handed over to the UN today (Sunday). Photo above is a still from a June video showing Curtis alive, if somewhat the worse for wear.
[Al Jazeera]

BREAKINGAmerican journalist Peter Theo Curtis has reportedly been released from captivity in Syria.

After disappearing in October of 2012, Curtis was apparently handed over to the UN today (Sunday). Photo above is a still from a June video showing Curtis alive, if somewhat the worse for wear.

[Al Jazeera]

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
Journalist James Foley was beheaded on video by an Islamic State militant on Tuesday. Foley, who had been captured in November of 2012, was murdered by a man with a British accent, prompting rapid investigation into the militant’s identity. 
The video also showed and threatened the life of another captive journalist - Steven Sotloff. Read more about him here. As Richard Engel reports, IS has been buying, trading, and stealing hostages from other Syrian groups.
Journalist James Rohde, himself a former Taliban prisoner, wrote in a piece for The Atlantic that US unwillingness to negotiate with IS or pay a ransom for the release of captured journalists failed Foley. 
The Pentagon has said a Delta Force rescue was attempted over the summer, to no success.
Also at issue is the widespread use of freelancers in war zone reporting an experience written about last summer by Italian freelancer Francesca Borri.
Jon Lee Anderson comments in The New Yorker: “Yesterday’s guerrillas have given way to terrorists, and now terrorists have given way to this new band, who are something like serial killers”
Read a selection of Foley’s reporting for GlobalPost.
The lawyers for three Al Jazeera staff jailed in Egypt have filed an appeal.
Tunisia and Egypt halted flights into and out of Libya over security concerns related to militia fighting.
Shots were fired in the Liberian capital of Monrovia during protests over an Ebola quarantine in West Point slum.
Boko Haram seized a police academy.
Clashes in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, between the militia and peacekeepers have intensified — killing five, including a Red Cross worker. Last weekend, 34 were killed in Bangui when members of the Seleka rebel group conducted a series of armed raids. As a result, the UN is increasing the number of peacekeepers in the country.
Egyptian peacekeepers will be sent to support UN efforts in CAR, Mali and Sudan.
Conflict over territorial disputes between Rezeigat and Maaliya tribes in Darfur has left 70 dead.
An Israeli airstrike killed 3 Hamas commanders in Gaza and airstrikes continue.
According to Haaretz, Germany, France and Britain have begun work on a Security Council resolution intended to end fighting in Gaza — granting the Palestinian Authority control over Gaza, internationally supervised reconstruction with the aim of preventing Hamas from re-arming and peace talks based on pre-1967 boundaries.
Rights activists say Lebanese media freedoms are at risk.
The estimated number of dead in the Syrian conflict is now 191,000, according to the UN.
The US says it has completed destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.
In Iraq, US weaponry intended for the Iraqi army has fallen into IS hands.
New Jersey-born Sharif Mobley is charged with murder in Yemen (downgraded from terrorism suspicions), yet his lawyers don’t know where he is.
A photojournalist held in Iran has been released, but Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian remains in custody.
The Afghan government expelled and banned New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg from the country for reporting it found threatening.
Matthieu Aikins writes in Rolling Stone about times changing for the worse for the expat community in Afghanistan.
The US has released 9 Pakistani prisoners from Bagram.
The US is offering $30m for information on Haqqani leadership.
Long-running border disputes in India’s northeastern Assam state have erupted in clashes, resulting in a dozen dead and 10,000 displaced. 
Street battles and heavy shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine have killed dozens — and the overall civilian/combatant death toll in the ongoing conflict is more than 2000.
The first trucks of a massive, 270-truck Russian aid convoy have cleared customs in eastern Ukraine.
A rocket strike on a refugee convoy in eastern Ukraine and killed 15 refugees. 
Over the past couple of weeks, a number of the pro-Russian rebel leaders have stepped aside.
An interview with photojournalist Mauricio Lima, who has been on assignment for the New York Times in Ukraine for the past month.
Kosovo arrested 40 men suspected of having fought in rebel groups in Syria and Iraq.
At The New York Times, Ravi Somaiya and Christine Haughney write on the increased global targeting of journalists.
The Guardian and the Texas Observer have teamed up to produce a four part series of reports on the humanitarian/immigration crisis at the US-Mexican border and in Central America.
Mexico says 22,322 people have “disappeared" since the drug war began in 2006.
The US says it plans to amend the process by which people can challenge their inclusion on the no-fly list. 
I encourage you to donate something to the Committee to Protect Journalists in Foley’s name, so they can continue to work to protect reporters in danger around the world. (Other organizations that support and protect journalists include the Rory Peck Trust, RISC and Reporters Without Borders.)
Photo: Gaza Strip. Two men, Adel and Mohammed, in the only room left in their house not utterly destroyed. August 16. Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty.

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

I encourage you to donate something to the Committee to Protect Journalists in Foley’s name, so they can continue to work to protect reporters in danger around the world. (Other organizations that support and protect journalists include the Rory Peck Trust, RISC and Reporters Without Borders.)

Photo: Gaza Strip. Two men, Adel and Mohammed, in the only room left in their house not utterly destroyed. August 16. Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty.

…ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day.
President Obama’s remarks on the beheading of journalist James Foley.

If you want to acknowledge James Foley’s death…

in a way that could offer some help to journalists in danger around the world — you can make a donation in his memory to the Committee to Protect Journalists so the organization can continue to work on their behalf.

…we believe the assassination of a journalist in wartime should be considered an international crime of war.
Gary Pruitt — the CEO and president of the Associated Press — in a statement released today on the apparent beheading of freelance journalist James Foley by the Islamic State.

The Guardian and This World

The Guardian has recently been criticized for running an ad (print only) by the organization This World — an ad featuring Elie Wiesel and saying, among other things, “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’ turn.” (Newspapers in the US ran this ad, too, but that’s less surprising.)

Alan Rusbridger responded with a few interesting arguments — primarily that newspapers shouldn’t dismiss ads they disagree with and that it was a freedom of speech issue. Those are valid considerations when it comes to controversial advertising, but this wasn’t an ad for a political campaign or an advocacy group dealing with social issues — it was an ad about an ongoing conflict. And the ad used the child casualties of that conflict as a tool of emotional manipulation. That’s not an issue of whether or not the paper disagrees with a political stance; this is much more than that. The language of the ad was not just offensive to those who disagree with it — it was a base manipulation of the deaths of children.

One of my great disagreements with this choice — while it sounds admirable to forge ahead and publish ads you disagree with — is that it diminished and overshadowed the reporting from Gaza and Israel from Guardian journalists. Advertising should never overshadow the actual journalism, and that’s exactly what it did. When there is a clash between the two, the advertising should go. It is not, or should not be, more valuable to the publication. 

Read Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott’s good discussion of what happened.

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