February 28, 2015

“My Best Gay friend” is Got to go… Yesterday!



                                                                            

First, there was My Best Friend's Weddingthen came Sex and the City and, of course, Will & Grace. Jump ahead a few years, and it's even cropped up in Lena Dunham's Girls. The trope is officially and stubbornly solidified in pop culture.
It's the Gay Best Friend — the paradigmatic relationship between gay man and a straight woman — that has swept thoroughly through our culture, becoming a classic character on screens and in real life. It's a rise that is possible in part because of an increasingly accepting society, one that's open to visibility for gay men, validates their orientation and recognizes their contributions. 
But it's exactly that positive progress that makes one thing clear today: The Gay Best Friend has got to go. In an era when marriage equality is sweeping the nation and acceptance is on the rise, it's a dated stereotype that, ultimately, does more harm than good. That's why it's time to replace the nonsensical "Gay Best Friend" with a more accurate term: friend.
The root of the problem: "Stereotypes are a classification system that makes the world feel more manageable," says Liz Margolies, founder and executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network. And people cling to them when something is unknown or threatening — there's a reason it's called homophobia, after all. 
There may be another reason the Gay Best Friend stereotype was so enthusiastically embraced across culture: women's desire for a non-threatening male presence in their lives. "Straight women often have a desire for safe and intimate relationships, and gay men offer exactly that without the fear of intimacy necessarily kicking in," psychologist Megan De Beyer told Mic.
In fact, a 2013 study of 88 straight women and 58 gay men found that the two sides trusted each other's dating advice more than straight women trusted straight men or gay men trusted straight men or lesbians, the Atlantic reported. This is because, the researchers suggest, the two groups share an attraction to men but aren't competing for mates, according to the Atlantic.
The appeal may also be connected to a void women feel. De Beyer added that it's common to hear "complaints from straight women about straight men who cannot engage on all levels and are difficult to communicate with, whereas they feel with gay men it's all just simple, fun and easy." 
"Straight women often have a desire for safe and intimate relationships, and gay men offer exactly that."
All style and sass: What's problematic is the assumption that gay men are always "simple, fun and easy," not to mention "fabulous." The Gay Best Friend trope relies on reductive stereotypes of gay men's interests, habits, behaviors and demeanors, many of which are positioned as useful complements to women's needs. 
Pop culture and the media are rife with illogical depictions of gay men as great shoppers, style gurus, endless fonts of sassy bons mots and sympathetic, insightful advisers. Those qualities may accurately describe some gay men (and also some toy poodles); but clearly the whole is not rightfully represented. Where are the fashion-backward gays, the dishonest sneaky queer men, the ones that have no humor whatsoever? Gay men, like any other humans, have a diverse array of personality traits that can't be neatly summed up in one "type."
Moreover, the "Gay Best Friend" inherently marginalizes gay men into a sidekick role, always in the service of someone more important. With a very specific function to fulfill, the Gay Best Friend is rarely allowed to deviate from his allocated role. In films like As Good As It Gets and TV series like Gossip Girl, the G.B.F. added a dose of snappy humor; in Mean Girls and Sex And The City, he doled out advice on fashion and sex — witty insights, of course, being the only sex-related action a G.B.F. gets on-screen, his own sex life being of no importance.




Just an accessory: That's because the Gay Best Friend is treated not so much as a person as an accessory, an object to be possessed. This is epitomized by the language around the term: "My Gay Best Friend" or "My Gay." As BuzzFeed recently noted, "Sure, it sounds cute at first — 'My gays.' It doesn't even sound malicious. You're just showing the world how accepting you are because you have a gay BFF. But you see, a human being can't be 'yours.'"
Being reduced to stereotypes for others' use, of course, is a problem faced by many minorities. Consider the "token minority best friend defense," as the New Republic phrased it in 2011. Wearing a friendship like a badge, valued more for what it represents to others than to the individual friend themselves, devalues the relationship to a merely functional level. A wholly imbalanced situation, it barely resembles a friendship between two equals.
And in an age when gay men (not to mention gay women) are finally being seen as people deserving of equal rights and equal treatment — and when having a friend who's gay means they're just, well, your friend — the G.B.F. trope doesn't apply. 
Wearing a friendship like a badge devalues the relationship to a merely functional level. 
Throwing out the term: Unpacking and disassembling society's view of Gay Best Friends can come, in part, from embracing real friendships rather than "token" ones, something that's already happening. 
"More LGBT people are simply integrated into the lives of all people as friends and family," says Cathy Renna, a media activist and LGBT community PR guru. "We will continue to battle homophobia and sexism and racism for a long time to come, but I would like to think we have made progress beyond the patronizing 'I have a gay friend so I must be OK with it' statement." 
In the meantime, progress is happening on the mainstream culture front, Girls' Elijah notwithstanding. When it comes to more nuanced representations, HBO's San Francisco-based Looking features characters across the gay milieu and adds new, authentic representations weekly. Hank on Sirens, played by Kevin Daniels, is a rounded and interesting character, sexual orientation aside. How to Get Away With MurderGlee and other shows include gay men not hemmed in by G.B.F. stereotypes.
ABC's Happy Endings confronted the G.B.F. storyline head-on in 2011, with protagonist Penny's pursuit of a stereotypical one to replace her actual gay best friend, Max, who is cynical, sports-loving and not at all sassy. The movie GBF, released in 2013, is entirely dedicated to highlighting young women’s bizarre pursuit of a picture-perfect specimen of gay arm candy.



Pop culture is getting there. But additionally, there's an argument to be made that aspects of the gay community itself can help change perceptions further. Gay organizations and queer magazines have a duty to showcase fewer six-packed stallions and glittered dancing queens, featuring more "real" men across all possible media. It's time for the fantasy to combine forces with reality: actual men of all ages, races and sexual variations that come with or without hair, fat, makeup and fashion opinions. 
"The LGBT community could very easily — and increasingly is — be better represented in our culture in two ways: more diversity and more depth," Renna says. Progress is evident with magazines like Amsterdam-based Butt, Australia's Hello Mr. and New York's Spank Art Mag, which actively promote more nuanced images of gay men.
Individuals like film director and porn model/actor Damien Moreau are using their work to represent male sexuality in non-cliched ways, including in pornography. Moreau insists on the gay community taking on an anti-stereotype movement, telling Mic, "We as a community need to educate ourselves more on what the acronym LGBTIQ actually means. It's more than a string of letters." 
What it comes down to is the abandonment of stereotype images and cliched language on all sides in order to move away from any reductive stereotypes, encourage less discrimination and place friendship and gay men satisfactorily aside from prejudice and cliche. The good news is that we’re already well on our way — the "Gay Best Friend" feels as outdated as last year's accessory. 

Daniel Scheffler's avatar image By Daniel Scheffler
Connections.Mic

Mr. Spock is Left Earth, Lets review 5 Surprising things about him

Leonard Nimoy
One of Star Trek’s most prolific actors and beloved characters has sadly passed away today (Friday – February 27, 2015). Leonard Nimoy, the veteran actor who portrayed the human/Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock, has left us at the age of 83. Here’s everything you need to know about the cause of Nimoy’s death, as well as a brief look into his history in Hollywood. 

1. He Quit Smoking 30 Years Ago, But Passed Away Due to COPD

Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy passed away at his home, which is located in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, gave confirmation on his death and noting that it was caused by end-stage COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Mr. Nimoy actually told the world about him having this lethal disease in 2014, which came about due to his previous years of smoking. 
In 2014, he took to Twitter to announce that he had quit smoking 30 years ago. Before his death, Mr. Nimoy had been hospitalized on several occasions due to his respiratory problems. 
   2. He’s Most Famous for his Run as Mr. Spock on the Original Star Trek TV Series
Mr. Spock

Mr. Nimoy’s most prolific role came as Mr. Spock during his run (1966-1969) on the original Star Trek TV series. He chose to play this character instead of another role that he was in the running for (a character on the soap opera Peyton Palace), which turned out to be a wise decision. The Mr. Spock character became uber popular and his catchphrase (“Live long and prosper”) became well-known among Star Trek fanatics. 
Mr. Nimoy also took on this role in a voice acting position for Star Trek: The Animated Series and in an acting position in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Mr. Nimoy also played Mr. Spock on the big screen during his time spent in the 1st six Star Trek films, as well as appearances in the 2009 film reboot and its sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness

3. He Took on Several Other Roles After His Star Trek Run Came to an End

Leonard Nimoy
Once Mr. Nimoy left the original Star Trek TV series in 1969, he took on several different TV and movie characters to further his career. He joined the character roster for the TV series Mission Impossible, appeared in the movie Catlow, starred in two episodes of Night Gallery and also played a few stage plays such as Vincent and Fiddler on the Roof.

4. He Was Also a Respected Photographer

Leonard Nimoy
Mr. Nimoy was also well known for his work as a photographer. Most of his work was showcased around the world in galleries and given page space in several books, such as his own book The Full Body Project
During an interview with NPR, Mr. Nimoy spoke about his experience taking photographs of people on such large sizes, which the point of his aforementioned book was:
The first time I had photographed a person of that size and shape, it was scary. I didn’t know quite how to treat this figure. And I think that’s a reflection of something that’s prevalent in our culture. I think, in general, we are sort of conditioned to see a different body type as acceptable and maybe look away when the other body type arrives. It led me to a new consciousness about the fact that so many people live in body types that are not the type that’s being sold by fashion models.

5. He Has a Long History of Directing and Handling Voice Acting Duties for a Number of Video Games

Leonard Nimoy
Mr. Nimoy also has some legit directing shops. His history as a director can be seen through his work on the following TV shows, stage plays and films – Night GalleryVincentThe Powers of Matthew StarT.J. HookerStar Trek III: The Search for SpockStar Trek IV: The Voyage Home etc. 
When it comes to video game voice acting work, he voiced the following characters – the narrator for Seaman, the narrator for Civilization IV, Mr. Spock/narrator for Star Trek Online and Master Xenahort for Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.  
This posting appeared Friday Night at heavy.com 
lton Jones is Heavy's gaming editor. Reach him at Elton@Heavy.com. 

Streaming Internet Should Flow like water: FCC “Internet a Utility Now”



                                                                             
After almost a year of fierce national debate, the Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to pass net neutrality in a 3-to-2 partisan vote. The five-member commission “reclassified” broadband Internet access as a “common carrier” under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, making the Internet a regulated utility like water or electricity.
The new rules aim to ensure that Internet service providers (ISPs) cannot discriminate between content-makers by blocking or deliberately slowing some content while offering prioritization for those willing or able to pay. Mobile data service for smartphones and tablets also are being placed under the new rules. The directive also includes requirements to protect consumer privacy and to ensure Internet service is available for people with disabilities and in remote areas.
Critics of the rules say they may hinder innovation and investment. Opponents have said they plan to challenge the FCC order in court. But Republicans on Capitol Hill announced Tuesday that they do not plan to pass a legislative response. 
Recommended: How much do you know about cybersecurity? Take our quiz.
Net neutrality, or an open Internet, is the concept that ISPs should give consumers equal access to all legal content and applications. That means ISPs could not favor or block some content-makers or charge them to provide faster delivery of their content, in what are known as “fast lanes.” ISPs would also be forbidden from slowing the content of competing providers.Supporters of net neutrality say the Internet has become a human right that should be equally accessible for everyone. Denying access or giving preferential treatment to one user over another is thus considered a violation of the user’s rights.
"The Internet, which was once a luxury, is now a necessity, and it has given people the ability to be heard in our democracy and have more opportunity in our economy," Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange, an online civil rights organization, was quoted as saying in USA Today. "It has been a tool for the little guy to get ahead."
Proponents of net neutrality say that without the new rules, smaller content providers unable to pay hefty fees to ISPs would be pushed out and made more difficult to access.
“No one should have to ask permission to innovate, and we need to retain the ability of all Internet users to communicate and compete on a level playing field, preventing the presence of fast and slow lanes that are contrary to the essence of the Internet,” Sen. Edward J. Markey (D) of Massachusetts said in a statement.
Many larger Internet companies such as Netflix and Amazon, both of whose streaming services use large amounts of bandwidth, support the idea of net neutrality. Google and Twitter also are supporters.
"More than 30 percent of Internet traffic at peak times comes from Netflix, according to studies. So Verizon might say, 'Netflix, you need to pay us more,' " NPR’s Laura Sydell explains. "Or maybe Verizon strikes a deal with Amazon and says your prime video service can get speedier delivery to the home and we're going to slow down Netflix.”
If companies are asked to pay more, consumers may be asked to foot the bill, observers say.
But those who oppose net neutrality say it is an issue of free enterprise: Service providers should be free to decide how they deliver content and charge customers for their services. They also claim that net neutrality will prevent ISPs from making network upgrades and finding new business models.
“The last thing we should want is President Obama or a government agency picking winners and losers on the Internet. And enforcing net neutrality is picking winners and losers even if it looks like it is just ‘leveling the playing field.' He may think it is not, but it completely blocks certain business models and stops any possible innovation that might emerge if given the option of seeking differential access to bandwidth,” writes Jeffrey Dorfmanin Forbes.
“ 'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of the government,” wrote Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in a tweet last November.
Furthermore, more than just the Internet is at stake, some say.
“Advocates for pay-TV providers are saying the FCC should use Section 706 to act more aggressively against the companies that produce TV content. Why? Because the pay-TV providers think the content producers are charging them too much for programming – and because programming costs eat into the budget for building, say, cable broadband,” writes Brian Fung in The Washington Post.
If the FCC decides to pursue this line of logic, it could affect how much consumers pay for cable providers, too.
What every side does agree on, though, is that the results of today’s vote will affect everyone who uses the Internet. Anyone who goes online does so through an ISP, and increasingly these companies are lobbying to provide services on their own terms. Without net neutrality rules, companies like Comcast and Verizon could cherry pick which content is easy to access. And that means that consumer access to specific online content could slow down or speed up noticeably.
For anyone who uses the Internet, around 87 percent of Americans, today’s vote is a really big deal.                            

February 27, 2015

Is your body falling apart? Junk it keeping the Head(you) Replacing the Body


                                                                          

A radical plan for transplanting a head onto someone else’s body is set to be announced. But is such ethically sensitive surgery even feasible?
IT'S heady stuff. The world's first attempt to transplant a human head will be launched this year at a surgical conference in the US. The move is a call to arms to get interested parties together to work towards the surgery.
The idea was first proposed in 2013 by Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy. He wants to use the surgery to extend the lives of people whose muscles and nerves have degenerated or whose organs are riddled with cancer. Now he claims the major hurdles, such as fusing the spinal cord and preventing the body's immune system from rejecting the head, are surmountable, and the surgery could be ready as early as 2017.
Canavero plans to announce the project at the annual conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons (AANOS) in Annapolis, Maryland, in June. Is society ready for such momentous surgery? And does the science even stand up?
The first attempt at a head transplant was carried out on a dog by Soviet surgeon Vladimir Demikhov in 1954. A puppy's head and forelegs were transplanted onto the back of a larger dog. Demikhov conducted several further attempts but the dogs only survived between two and six days.
The first successful head transplant, in which one head was replaced by another, was carried out in 1970. A team led by Robert White at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, transplanted the head of one monkey onto the body of another. They didn't attempt to join the spinal cords, though, so the monkey couldn't move its body, but it was able to breathe with artificial assistance. The monkey lived for nine days until its immune system rejected the head. Although few head transplants have been carried out since, many of the surgical procedures involved have progressed. "I think we are now at a point when the technical aspects are all feasible," says Canavero.
This month, he published a summary of the technique he believes will allow doctors to transplant a head onto a new body (Surgical Neurology Internationaldoi.org/2c7). It involves cooling the recipient's head and the donor body to extend the time their cells can survive without oxygen. The tissue around the neck is dissected and the major blood vessels are linked using tiny tubes, before the spinal cords of each person are cut. Cleanly severing the cords is key, says Canavero.
The recipient's head is then moved onto the donor body and the two ends of the spinal cord – which resemble two densely packed bundles of spaghetti – are fused together. To achieve this, Canavero intends to flush the area with a chemical called polyethylene glycol, and follow up with several hours of injections of the same stuff. Just like hot water makes dry spaghetti stick together, polyethylene glycol encourages the fat in cell membranes to mesh.
Next, the muscles and blood supply would be sutured and the recipient kept in a coma for three or four weeks to prevent movement. Implanted electrodes would provide regular electrical stimulation to the spinal cord, because research suggests this can strengthen new nerve connections.
When the recipient wakes up, Canavero predicts they would be able to move and feel their face and would speak with the same voice. He says that physiotherapy would enable the person to walk within a year. Several people have already volunteered to get a new body, he says.
The trickiest part will be getting the spinal cords to fuse. Polyethylene glycol has been shown to prompt the growth of spinal cord nerves in animals, and Canavero intends to use brain-dead organ donors to test the technique. However, others are sceptical that this would be enough. "There is no evidence that the connectivity of cord and brain would lead to useful sentient or motor function following head transplantation," says Richard Borgens, director of the Center for Paralysis Research at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
If polyethylene glycol doesn't work, there are other options Canavero could try. Injecting stem cells or olfactory ensheathing cells – self-regenerating cells that connect the lining of the nose to the brain – into the spinal cord, or creating a bridge over the spinal gap using stomach membranes have shown promise in helping people walk again after spinal injury. Although unproven, Canavero says the chemical approach is the simplest and least invasive.
But what about the prospect of the immune system rejecting the alien tissue? Robert White's monkey died because its head was rejected by its new body. William Mathews, chairman of the AANOS, says he doesn't think this would be a major problem today. He says that because we can use drugs to manage the acceptance of large amounts of tissue, such as a leg or a combined heart and lung transplant, the immune response to a head transplant should be manageable. "The system we have for preventing immune rejection and the principles behind it are well established."
Canavero isn't alone in his quest to investigate head transplants. Xiao-Ping Ren of Harbin Medical University in China recently showed that it is possible to perform a basic head transplant in a mouse (CNS Neuroscience & Therapeuticsdoi.org/2d5). Ren will attempt to replicate Canavero's protocol in the next few months in mice, and monkeys.

The essence of you

Another hurdle will be finding a country to approve such a transplant. Canavero would like to do the experiment in the US, but believes it might be easier to get approval somewhere in Europe. "The real stumbling block is the ethics," he says. "Should this surgery be done at all? There are obviously going to be many people who disagree with it."
Patricia Scripko, a neurologist and bioethicist at the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System in California, says that many of the ethical implications related to the surgery depend on how you define human life. "I believe that what is specifically human is held within the higher cortex. If you modify that, then you are not the same human and you should question whether it is ethical. In this case, you're not altering the cortex." However, she adds that many cultures would not approve of the surgery because of their belief in a human soul that is not confined to the brain.
As with many unprecedented procedures, there may also be concerns about a slippery slope. In this case, it would be whether this would eventually lead to people swapping bodies for cosmetic reasons. However, Scripko – who doesn't believe the surgery will ever happen – doesn't think this applies here. "If a head transplant were ever to take place, it would be very rare. It's not going to happen because someone says 'I'm getting older, I'm arthritic, maybe I should get a body that works better and looks better'."
Unsurprisingly, the surgical community is also wary of embracing the idea. Many surgeons contacted by New Scientist refused to comment on the proposed project, or said it sounded "too outlandish" to be a serious consideration.
"This is such an overwhelming project, the possibility of it happening is very unlikely," says Harry Goldsmith, a clinical professor of neurological surgery at the University of California, Davis, who has performed one of the few surgeries that enabled someone with a spinal cord injury to regain the ability to walk. "I don't believe it will ever work, there are too many problems with the procedure. Trying to keep someone healthy in a coma for four weeks – it's not going to happen."
Nick Rebel, executive director of the US branch of the International College of Surgeons, says that although his organisation, along with the AANOS, is giving Canavero a stage, it is not sponsoring his ideas. "We're creating a venue for him to launch the project. There will be a lot of top international surgeons at the conference and we shall see whether it is well received or not."
Mathews is more enthusiastic about the project. "I embrace the concept of spinal fusion," he says, "and I think there are a lot of areas that a head transplant can be used, but I disagree with Canavero on the timing. He thinks it's ready, I think it's far into the future."
Canavero is philosophical. "This is why I first spoke about the idea two years ago, to get people talking about it," he says. "If society doesn't want it, I won't do it. But if people don't want it in the US or Europe, that doesn't mean it won't be done somewhere else. I'm trying to go about this the right way, but before going to the moon, you want to make sure people will follow you."
This article appeared in print under the headline "Welcome to the body shop"

The Celibacy Challenge by Alan Cumming at GLAAD

                                                                    


A coalition of organization’s, including GLAAD and Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), launched a new PSA and social media campaign starring openly bisexual actor Alan Cumming to raise awareness about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) blood donor deferral policy for gay and bisexual men. 
Created by Saatchi & Saatchi NY and Bullitt, #CelibacyChallenge urges the FDA to implement a blood donation system that screens all donors based on risk for HIV transmission, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 
“Stereotypes have no place in saving lives,​” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “The FDA’s proposed change still means that countless gay and bisexual men will be turned away from blood banks simply because of who they are. GLAAD is proud to stand alongside GMHC and Saatchi & Saatchi NY to shed light on this important issue.”
To call attention to the FDA’s blood donor deferral policy, GLAAD and GMHC’s campaign illustrates how unrealistic it is to ask someone to remain celibate for a year in order to donate blood by offering “approved alternatives” to sex. 
Participants are asked to share the humorous video through social media using the hashtag #CelibacyChallenge and to sign a petition calling on the FDA to modify their policy. 
More info about the donor issue and pro bono campaign can be found HERE

 http://www.sdgln.com/ 
Watch the video below.

Jeb Bush to Meet with Extremist Gay Super Hater


                                                                          

That Jeb Bush is the putative “moderate” in the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential field says far more about the ever-rightward movement of the contemporary GOP than it does about Bush’s ideological proclivities. Although he bucks the tinfoil-hat crowd on Common Core and supports comprehensive immigration reform, Bush’s record on abortion rights, taxes, affirmative action, gun control, and Florida’s “stand your ground” law is that of a “head-banging conservative,” as he described himself in his first gubernatorial campaign. Still, the rump faction of centrist Republicans hardly has anyone else to whom they can turn in next year’s GOP contest, which is shaping up, like 2012, as a battle between the right and the far right. And though Bush situates himself in the former camp, he’s making entreaties to the latter.
   


In a story on how Bush is winning early support from prominent pro-choice, pro-marriage equality Republicans (even though the former Florida governor shares their views on neither issue), the Wall Street Journal’s Beth Reinhard and Reid Epstein report that Bush is set to meet with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on the sidelines of the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, underscoring Bush’s commitment to wooing social conservatives — even the most extreme.

Since taking the helm of the FRC in 2003, Perkins has acquired a well-earned reputation as one of the country’s most vehement opponents of LGBT equality. He doesn’t simply oppose same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination measures; Perkins regularly engages in the demonization and smearing of LGBT people. Showing a flagrant disregard for the evidence, Perkins has called pedophilia a “homosexual problem.” Homosexuality, he has declared, leads to “eternal damnation.” After the suicides of LGBT teens led Dan Savage to start the It Gets Better project, Perkins condemned the initiative as “immoral,” “disgusting,” and an effort to promote “perversion.”

To read the full story, click HERE

February 26, 2015

Who is this Masked Animal that Likes to Cut human Heads? Mystery Solved


                                                                                     

MI5 and MI6 have identified the British fighter suspected of murdering the American journalist James Foley, senior government sources confirmed last night to The Sunday Times.

The masked man with a London accent, who is said to be known to fellow fighters as “Jihadi John”, was seen in the video of Foley’s death released by Islamic State last week.
A British hip-hop artist has emerged as a key suspect in the hunt for the killer of the US journalist James Foley. (leaksource.info)
The masked "Jihadi John" killer who fronted Islamic State beheading videos has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a British computer programming graduate from a well-to-do London family.

The black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent was shown in videos released by Islamic State (IS) apparently decapitating hostages including Americans, Britons and Syrians.
The 26-year-old militant used the videos to threaten the West, admonish its Arab allies and taunt President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron before petrified hostages cowering in orange jump suits.
Emwazi's name was first disclosed by the Washington Post, citing unidentified former associates, but two U.S. government sources who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed to Reuters that investigators believed Jihadi John was Emwazi.
Dressed entirely in black, a balaclava covering all but his eyes and the bridge of his nose and a holster under his left arm, Jihadi John became a menacing symbol of Islamic State brutality and one of the world's most wanted men.
Hostages called him John as he and other Britons in Islamic State had been nicknamed the Beatles.
Emwazi was born in Kuwait but came to Britain aged 6 and graduated with a computer programming degree from the University of Westminster before coming to the attention of Britain's main domestic intelligence service, MI5.
An associate of Emwazi, who was a fluent Arabic speaker, said MI5 tried to recruit him and then prevented him from travelling abroad, forcing him to flee abroad without telling his family. He travelled to Syria around 2012.
MI5 does not publicly comment on such claims. The British government and police refused to confirm or deny his identity, citing an ongoing security investigation.
“We don't confirm or deny matters relating to intelligence," said a spokeswoman for Cameron, who has ordered spy agencies and soldiers to track down the killer.
 A flat is seen through railings in west London February 26, 2015. Local media reported that the flat is the former home of Mohammed Emwazi.  
CREDIT: REUTERS/STEFAN WERMUTH
 MOST WANTED MAN
"Jihadi John" rose to notoriety in August 2014 when a video appeared showing a masked man raging against the United States before apparently beheading U.S. citizen James Foley off camera.
Intelligence services in the United States and Britain used a variety of investigative techniques including voice and facial recognition as well as interviews with former hostages to identify the man, with whom MI5 had already had dealings.
But security officials made great efforts to avoid publicly naming Emwazi, fearing that would make him more difficult to catch. They were uneasy that the name was revealed.
There was no answer at two addresses in west London where Emwazi was listed to have lived. Neighbours described the family as "normal people" and "friendly".
"This is the first time anything like this happens in this neighbourhood," said Fatima Al-Baqali. "We have to be careful now. I didn't know this family and I usually know everyone here."
"JIHADI JOHN"
Asim Qureshi, the research director of Cage a charity that campaigns for those detained on terrorism charges, said that although he could not be certain Emwazi was John, there were some "striking similarities".
Qureshi painted a picture of a kind and thoughtful young man who faced harassment from MI5, which apparently suspected he wanted to join the Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab.
British authorities have linked Emwazi to another British militant killed in Somalia in a U.S. drone attack.
A British court ruling dated December 2011 reported that Emwazi was an associate of Bilal al Berjawi, a leader of al Shabaab, a person in possession of the court ruling said. 
Qureshi said British spies had tried to recruit Emwazi.
"There's one character that I remember, one kind person that I remember and then I see that image and there doesn't seem to be a correlation between the two," Qureshi told reporters.
"I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London..," Emwazi wrote in an email to Cage.
He felt like "a person imprisoned and controlled by security service men, (who) stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace and my country, Kuwait".
Cage said Emwazi was detained in Tanzania, where he went for a safari holiday with two friends in August 2009.
He was deported to Amsterdam and interrogated by MI5 and a Dutch intelligence officer and then sent back to Britain.
It was impossible to verify the version of events given by the charity, which drew criticism for shifting the responsibility for Emwazi's crimes.
"I think this is an attempt to deflect attention from Jihadi John," said Shiraz Maher Senior Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, King's College London. 
"They're trying to lay the blame for this at the feet of the British government," he told Sky news.
The Cage charity, which also worked with Michael Adebolajo, the Muslim covert who with an accomplice killed a British soldier in London in May 2013, said both men had been victims of undue pressure from the security services.
A senior British lawmaker said there appeared to be similarities between Emwazi and Adebolajo, who hacked soldier Lee Rigby to death in broad daylight on a south London street. 
"This gives echoes of the case of Adebolajo and the terrible murder of Lee Rigby," said Menzies Campbell, a member of parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee.
After becoming frustrated following three failed attempts to return to Kuwait, and changing his name to Mohammed al-Ayan, Emwazi left his parents' home and slipped out of Britain.
Four months later, police visited the family home to say they had information he had entered Syria. His family thought he was in Turkey doing aid work.
He is implicated in the killing of victims including U.S. citizens James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig, Britons David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, and over 20 Syrian soldiers.
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Kate Holton in London; Editing by Stephen AddisonPeter Millership and Giles Elgood) (Reuters)

Featured Posts

David Duckenfield Faces Manslaughter in the UK by Gross Negligence of 95 Men, Women and Children

  Former Ch Supt David Duckenfield faces 95 charges of manslaughter and five other senior figures will be prosecuted over th...