If in case it was all too confusing for you, here’s a summary:
President Assad (who is bad) is a nasty guy who got so nasty his people rebelled and the Rebels (who are good) started winning (hurrah!).
But then some of the rebels turned a bit nasty and are now called Islamic State (who are definitely bad!) while some continued to support democracy (who are still good.)
So the Americans (who are good ) started bombing Islamic State (who are bad ) and giving arms to the Syrian Rebels (who are good ) so they could fight Assad (who is still bad) which was good.
There is a breakaway state in the north run by the Kurds who want to fight IS (which is good) but the Turkish authorities think they are bad, so the U.S. says they are bad while secretly thinking they’re good and giving them guns to fight IS (which is good) but that is another matter.
Getting back to Syria.
So President Putin (who is bad because he invaded Crimea and the Ukraine and killed lots of folks, including that nice Russian man in London with polonium poisoned sushi, has decided to back Assad (who is still bad) by attacking IS (who are also bad ) which is sort of a good thing (!?).
But Putin (still bad) thinks the Syrian Rebels (who are good) are also bad, and so he bombs them too, much to the annoyance of the Americans (who are good) who are busy backing and arming the rebels (who are also good).
Now Iran (who used to be bad, but now they have agreed not to build any nuclear weapons with which to bomb Israel are now good) are going to provide ground troops to support Assad (still bad) as are the Russians (bad) who now have ground troops and aircraft in Syria.
So a Coalition of Assad (still bad) Putin (extra bad) and the Iranians (good, but in a bad sort of way) are going to attack IS (who are bad which is good, but also the Syrian Rebels (who are good) which is bad.
Now the British (obviously good, except that silly anti-Semite who leads the Labor Party, Mr. Corbyn in the corduroy jacket, who is bad) and the Americans (also good) cannot attack Assad (still bad) for fear of upsetting Putin (bad) and Iran (good/bad) and now they have to accept that Assad might not be that bad after all compared to IS (super bad — see Paris, November 2015).
So Assad (bad) is now probably good, being better than IS and, because Putin and Iran are also fighting IS, that may now make them good. America (still good) will find it hard to arm a group of rebels being attacked by the Russians for fear of upsetting Mr. Putin (now good) and that nice mad Ayatollah in Iran (also good?) and so they may be forced to say that the Rebels are now bad, or at the very least abandon them to their fate. This will lead most of them to flee to Turkey and on to Europe or join IS (still the only consistently bad).
To Sunni Muslims an attack by Shia Muslims (Assad and Iran) backed by Russians will be seen as something of a Holy War. Therefore, the ranks of IS will now be seen by the Sunnis as the only Jihadis fighting in the Holy War and hence many Muslims will now see IS as good (duh).
Sunni Muslims will also see the lack of action by Britain and America in support of their Sunni rebel brothers as something of a betrayal (might have a point?) and hence we will be seen as bad.
So now we have America (now bad) and Britain (also bad) providing limited support to Sunni Rebels (bad ) many of whom are looking to IS (good/bad ) for support against Assad (now good) who, along with Iran (also good) and Putin (now, straining credulity, good ) are attempting to retake the country Assad used to run before all this started.
Report: Texas charter school network awarded most contracts to Turkish-owned businesses
By Liz Goodwin | The Lookout – 9 minutes ago
A rapidly expanding charter school movement in Texas that educates 16,000 kids awards almost all of its pricey contracting jobs to Turkish-owned businesses, The New York Times reports.
The 33 Harmony schools–which emphasize math and science–receive $100 million in taxpayer funds each year, and are intertwined with followers of the moderate Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen. The Times describes the Gulen movement as “a loose network of several million followers of Mr. Gulen, who preaches the need to embrace modernity in a peace-loving, ecumenical version of Islam.”
The Harmony schools have awarded 35 contracts to outside businesses worth $82 million since 2009, the Times reports, with all but three going to Turkish-owned enterprises. In one instance, Harmony awarded a contract to a Gulen-affiliated business priced hundreds of thousands of dollars higher than the contracts offered by competitors. Several business owners told the Times they weren’t told why their cheaper bids were rejected.
The Times says its findings raise questions about whether “the schools are using taxpayer dollars to benefit the Gulen movement—by giving business to Gulen followers, or through financial arrangements with local foundations that promote Gulen teachings and Turkish culture.” The schools themselves do not teach religion to their diverse student bodies, and school officials told the Times that contracts were awarded by merit as state law demands.
Last year, USA Today wrote that nationally about 35,000 students attend Turkish-affiliated charter schools, and that virtually all of them “have opened or operate with the aid of Gulen-inspired ‘dialogue’ groups, local nonprofits that promote Turkish culture.” Most of the schools are high-performing, with students scoring well on state standardized tests.
The schools have faced controversy in the past for recruiting hundreds of teachers from Turkey to teach on H1-B visas, which are granted when employers can’t find Americans with specific skills for a job. Most of the Texas school’s 33 principals are Turkish men. Charter schools–which are embraced by the bipartisan education reform movement–are publicly financed, but have more leeway than public schools are granted to experiment with different curricula and teaching techniques.