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Broken Government

Pressure Mounts on Congress to Address Militarized Cops Nationwide

August 15th 2014

Groups on the left and right are uniting behind calls to end what they say is the rise of a "militarized" police force in the United States.

They say the controversial police tactics seen this week in Ferguson, Mo., are not isolated to the St. Louis County police department and warn the rise of heavily armed law enforcement agencies has become an imminent threat to civil liberties.
“What we're seeing today in Ferguson is a reflection of the excessive militarization of police that has been happening in towns across America for decades,” said Kara Dansky, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Read more ..


America and Israel

U.S./Israel Relations Reach New Low over Weapons Transfer Delay

August 15th 2014

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Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf denied Thursday night a Wall Street Journal's report claiming a change in US policy regarding arms supplies to Israel.

Harf said that the US was concerned about civilian deaths in Gaza. "We thought Israel could do more to prevent civilian casualties," she said. "Due to the crisis in Gaza we took additional care like we would take in any crisis. We took steps to look at (munitions) deliveries. … We wanted to look at things a little bit harder."

There was "no change in policy" regarding the US supply of arms to Israel, she said, adding, "The additional care we are taking is not permanent. …The US commitment to Israel's security is unshakable."

Despite the American assurances, according to Israeli daily Haaretz, Israeli senior officials have been holding discussions with the American administration in attempt also to remove any limitations placed by Washington on weapon shipments to Israel as a result of the fighting in Gaza. "We are speaking with them to try and return the situation to its previous [state]," one of the senior officials said. Read more ..


Obama's 'Unhelpful' Remarks about Police Tactics in Ferguson, Missouri

August 14th 2014

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The executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police criticized President Obama Thursday for his remarks about law enforcement in Ferguson, Mo.

"I would contend that discussing police tactics from Martha's Vineyard is not helpful to ultimately calming the situation," director Jim Pasco said in an interview with The Hill.

"I think what he has to do as president and as a constitutional lawyer is remember that there is a process in the United States and the process is being followed, for good or for ill, by the police and by the county and by the city and by the prosecutors’ office," Pasco added. Read more ..


Ukraine on Edge

Russia's Putin Promises More Action in Ukraine

August 14th 2014

President Vladimir Putin says Russia will do its utmost to stop the bloodshed in Ukraine, where government forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east. Putin was speaking at an August 14 meeting with Russian lawmakers in Crimea, which Russia annexed in March.

He said Ukraine "has sunk into bloody chaos, in a fratricidal conflict," and that the situation was deteriorating with each passing day. However, the Russian leader did not spell out how Russia intended to help end the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He also said that Russia must not "fence itself off from the outside world" and should not break ties with partners. "But we should also not let them treat us with disdain," he said. Read more ..


Gaza on Edge

In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

August 13th 2014

Gaza violence Jun 2012

By day, except for the high hum of surveillance drones or bursts of bombs and artillery fire, parts of the Gaza Strip seem unnaturally quiet. 

Few pedestrians or vehicles move along Gaza City’s once-bustling commercial streets, with residents preferring to hunker down at home – if they have one. Donkeys and camels wander along the Israeli-Gaza buffer zone, stirring when armored tanks roll through.

Routine has been upended here since Israel began its July 8 offensive to halt Hamas militants from firing rockets at it from Gaza. Now the busiest gathering spots are the 85 sites where nearly 200,000 displaced Palestinians have taken refuge.   

By evening, anxiety rises throughout Gaza, residents say, noting Israeli airstrikes intensify at night and into the early morning.

A case in point: Just before daybreak Wednesday, Israeli artillery shells pummeled a United Nations-run school compound where as many as 3,000 had sought shelter. At least 19 people were killed and scores were wounded at the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Several hours later, we surveyed the devastation. A wall had caved in on the classroom where most of the victims had bedded down, and blankets littered the floor along with traces of flesh and blood. Some refugees accused the West of complicity for supplying funding that armed the Israelis. Their comments echoed those of other Gaza Palestinians, who say the weapons being used to destroy their homes and their lives come from the United States, other Western powers and multinationals. On Wednesday, U.S. defense officials said they would resupply Israeli’s military with ammunition, including grenade launchers. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Obama Concentrates on Golf at Martha's Vineyard

August 12th 2014

Obama gesticulates

President Obama is wasting no time hitting the links on his two-week vacation. The commander in chief went to the golf course his first two days in Martha’s Vineyard.

After spending just half an hour on Saturday at his rental digs (a $12 million, seven-bedroom abode), Obama teed up for his first game of golf, according to White House press pool reports. One of his partners on the golf course was basketball star Ray Allen.

Obama also ventured back to the course the next day, accompanied by three golfing partners.

The putting green has been a staple of the first family’s vacation plans, which have included a visit to the Massachusetts island every year except 2012, when it would have fallen smack in the middle of the presidential election campaign season. Picking up a club was also one of the first moves Obama made during his August stay last year.

Read more ..

The Battle for Baghdad

SecState Kerry Vows No More Boots on the Ground in Iraq

August 12th 2014

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Secretary of State John Kerry has ruled out sending combat troops to Iraq, and urged Iraqi prime minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi to quickly form an inclusive government. Kerry was in Sydney, along with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, for annual U.S.-Australian ministerial talks.

While the United States has conducted air strikes against extremist Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, John Kerry said that American combat troops would not be sent to join the fight.

Kerry said the solution to the crisis in Iraq was a “unified and inclusive” government in Baghdad that embraced all Iraqis. The Americans are supporting the nomination of Haider al-Abadi as Iraq's prime minister-designate in place of the incumbent Nouri Maliki. Read more ..


The Edge of Hate

Miami Fears that Murdered Rabbi was Victim of Hate-Crime

August 11th 2014

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The Jewish community of Miami, Florida, is offering a reward in the amount of $50,000 for information leading to arrests of the alleged perpetrators of a murder that has frightened a city otherwise accustomed to violent crime. On August 9, Rabbi Joseph Raksin hy''d, 60, was shot to death as he walked to a local synagogue, Bais Menachem Chabad. According to the Miami Herald, there are reports that he was shot by two young African-American males who then fled after committing the deed.

Family members, friends, and other members of the Crown Heights Jewish community of New York had arrived in Florida last week to visit his daughter for one week. Elehana Giezinsky, 56, told the New York Post that her community is not accepting the current theory bruited about by Miami police that this was an ordinary robbery attempt and murder. "It was not a robbery. The criminal element in Miami and New York knows that the Orthodox (Jews) don’t carry money on the Sabbath," she said. She added that the murder has left the rabbi's wife and six children "shocked and devastated." Lieb Ezagui, the rabbi's son-in-law, fears that "he was targeted because he was Jewish. They walked up and shot him and just walked away cold. They didn’t even try to rob him." Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

Iraqi President Maliki Battles Political Opponents while Islamic State Advances

August 11th 2014

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says he will file a lawsuit on August 11 against President Fouad Massoum, alleging violations of the country's constitution as he tries to stay in the post he has held since 2006. Maliki, whose coalition won the most seats in April elections, says the president violated the constitution by failing to name a new prime minister from the country's largest parliamentary bloc by an August 10 deadline.

The United Nations and United States have expressed support for Massoum and the selection of a prime minister who will lead an inclusive new Iraqi government.

Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special representative for Iraq, said on August 11 that President Massoum is acting in line with the constitution and called on Iraqi security forces to refrain from actions that could be seen at interfering in the political process. His statement came as police officials reported large deployments of special forces in key sections of Baghdad, including the so-called Green Zone that houses Iraq's major institutions.

Secretary of State John Kerry said forming a government is critical for Iraq's stability and urged Maliki to avoid inflaming the situation. Read more ..


Aviation on Edge

Passenger Plane Crashes at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport --40 Feared Dead

August 10th 2014

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An airplane carrying 40 passengers crashed in a residential area after taking off from Tehran's Mehrabad airport on Sunday morning, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported, citing a spokesman for the Iranian Red Crescent Society and its own reporter. Initial reports were that 40 passengers, including seven children, were killed in the crash, IRNA reported. No information was available on whether anyone on the ground was injured. The plane was bound for Tabas in northeastern Iran and crashed into the Azad residential block on Mina 6 Boulevard, it reported.

IRNA reported that an engine shutdown caused the crash. Iran's aviation sector has suffered repeated crashes which have been blamed by Iranian politicians on international sanctions. Those sanctions have restricted Iranian carriers from buying new aircraft. For years, planes have been kept in service through parts imported on the black market, cannibalised from other planes or reproduced locally, aviation sources say. Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

U.S. Aid for Stranded Iraqi Refugees Trickles In

August 10th 2014

The U.S. military continues to drop humanitarian aid to refugees stranded in the mountains of northern Iraq, about 200 kilometers from the Kurdish capital of Irbil.

Three airdrops have delivered more than 52,000 meals and more than 10,600 gallons of fresh drinking water to the displaced Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities who fled to the hills in fear of the violent advance by Islamic State fighters.

The U.S. military says it also has carried out four more airstrikes against Islamic State militants who were firing on civilians in northern Iraq.

The U.S. Central Command said Saturday's strikes involved jet fighters and drones and targeted armored carriers and a truck. It described the strikes near Sinjar as successful. Read more ..


The Ebola Outbreak

Nigeria Declares State of Emergency over Ebola Fears

August 9th 2014

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a national emergency over the Ebola outbreak, while the World Health Organization says the epidemic now constitutes an international public health emergency. On August 8, Jonathan approved nearly $12 million of emergency funds to contain the outbreak, which has led to two deaths in Lagos. Jonathan also asked schools to extend their holidays and urged religious and political groups to avoid holding large gatherings that might spread the virus.

Also on August 8, WHO reported that the number of deaths from the epidemic in four West African countries continues to rise. It said total number of cases stands at 1,779, and that 961 of those people have already died. The organization declared the outbreak an international health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread. Read more ..


The Battle for Lebanon

Lebanese Army Agrees to Ceasefire with Sunni Militants

August 8th 2014

Hizbollah Office

The Lebanese Army agreed to a ceasefire with Sunni jihadists on Wednesday, allowing militants to withdraw from the besieged city of Arsal in northeastern Lebanon. As part of the deal, Sunni militants will release all captured government troops within 24 hours.

Clashes began on Friday after the Lebanese Army arrested the commander of a Syrian Islamist group, Imad Ahmad Jomaa. According to the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star, Jomaa admitted to planning a large terrorist attack against Lebanese Army bases. Jomaa's sympathizers, including terrorists from Islamic State (IS) and al-Nusra Front, responded by attacking the Lebanese troops stationed in the area, subsequently gaining control over large parts of Arsal.

The conflict continued through Tuesday as the Lebanese Army bombarded the area with artillery. In a statement, Lebanese security officials said that 16 soldiers were killed, 86 were wounded, and 22 were missing after the fighting. Jihadists released video of troops taken hostage over the weekend. Approximately 50 Islamist fighters also died during the operation. Read more ..


The Bear is Back

Russia Bans Some Food Imports from Europe

August 8th 2014

Vladimir Putin cool sunglasses

Moscow banned certain food imports from the West on Thursday in retaliation for recently imposed U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia. The move escalates the Kremlin's row with the West over the Russian government's arming of Ukrainian separatists. According to a speech given by Prime Minister Medvedev, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree stopping the import "of beef, pork, fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products"  from the EU, U.S., Australia, Canada, and Norway for one year.

The Kremlin's announcement will cost Western farmers billions of dollars, but probably won't hurt the overall economies of Europe or America. A statement released by the American Farm Bureau Federation, an industry group, said that the decision was a "political move" by Putin and the "biggest losers in this will be [the] Russian consumers, who will pay more for their food." Over the past few years, Russia has been the second-largest importer of agricultural goods among emerging markets; greater self sufficiency could prove costly. Read more ..


The Islamic State

Lebanese Christians Overwhelmed by the Needs of Iraqi Christian Refugees

August 7th 2014

Chaldean Catholic Bishop Michael Qasarji said in Beirut that approximately 8,000 Iraqi Christians have taken refuge in Lebanon since the beginning of the crisis in Iraq, especially since the Islamic State took control of Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, in June. The Sunni Muslim army of the Islamic State seized the churches, homes, and businesses belonging to Christians who had resided in the area since the beginning of the Christian era.

Iraqi Christians were given the choice of either converting to Islam or leaving, after their properties were marked for violent dispossesion by the Muslims. Christian women and girls fleeing the area have been reportedly systematically raped by IS forces. Converts from Islam to Christianity have been beheaded, in keeping with Islamic religious law. The crosses on the approximately 30 churches in Mosul were removed, while one of the churches has been converted to a mosque. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Hamas Says it is Ready for War, Again

August 7th 2014

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After a month of fighting Israel, masked members of the Hamas military wing in Gaza gave the Qatar-based satellite network Al Jazeera an exclusive look at how they are preparing for a new round of warfare.

After a month of fighting Israel, masked members of the Hamas military wing in Gaza gave the Qatar-based satellite network Al Jazeera an exclusive look at how they are preparing for a new round of warfare.

As representatives of Israel and the Palestinian factions remain engaged in Egyptian-mediated cease-fire discussions in Cairo, operatives of the Izz a-Din al-Kassam Brigades gave Al Jazeera a glimpse of the tunnels and rocket-launchers that they conceal in concrete bunkers.

The terrorist group also displayed some of its arsenal of rockets, mortars, and anti-tank missiles. The Al Jazeera clip, whose English translation is courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), shows Hamas snipers in camouflage who are positioned to shoot. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

FRANCE 24 Reporter Reveals Hamas Rockets Fired near UN Facility, Reporters and Civilian Area

August 6th 2014

A reporter for France 24 News on Tuesday evening published a report showing a Hamas rocket launcher which was hidden, and fired, from a site very close to a United Nations facility, Palestinian civilians, and reporters’ lodgings – all three indicating a Geneva Conventions war crime. (see video here)

In Gallagher Fenwick’s report, he, in his words, “snoops around” a location he’d previously reported from days earlier, from where a rocket aimed at Israel had been fired during his live stand-up report.

“This type of setup is at the heart of the debate,” says Gallagher. “The Israeli army has repeatedly accused the Palestinian militants of shooting from within densely populated civilian areas and that is precisely the type of setup we have here.”

With the 72-hour cease fire now in place as of Tuesday morning, similar reports are beginning to seep out by other journalists who have since left Gaza, and feel free to report the situation on the ground. Read more ..


The 2014 Vote

GOP Voices Concern over So-Called 'War on Whites'

August 5th 2014

Republicans say a GOP lawmaker’s comments that Democrats are waging a “war on whites” is just what the party doesn’t need to deal with ahead of the midterm elections.

With a Senate majority in sight, party strategists say their office holders need to avoid a distracting battle on the polarizing issue of race, which could gin up Democratic voters and turn off independents.

“There's no part of what he said that was helpful,” one GOP strategist groused of Rep. Mo Brooks's (R-Ala.) comments.

Brooks made the “war on whites” comments during an interview on conservative radio host Laura Ingraham's show, which focused on immigration and the border crisis.

A day later, he doubled down on his accusation in an interviews with USA Today and Newsmax. Read more ..


Ukraine on Edge

As Investigators Review Ukraine Shoot-Down Site, More Killing Ensues

August 4th 2014

Russian tourist in Ukraine

Deadly clashes between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists continued Sunday as investigators searched the site of a plane crash for a third day.

Local officials in Donetsk say six people were killed there in shelling between the two sides. An official tells Reuters news agency three other people were killed in Luhansk.

A Reuters reporter in central Donetsk said the shelling echoed through the night and witnesses said several buildings caught fire in the outlying Petrovsky district, including a school. The smell of smoke stretched as far as the city center.

Many residents of Luhansk, which is close to the border with Russia, have no electricity and some are without water, the city administration's press office said. Advances by the Ukrainian army have forced the rebels out of most of the towns they had occupied in Russian-speaking east Ukraine and squeezed them mainly into Luhansk, which had a population of about 400,000 before the conflict, and Donetsk, which had about 1 million residents. Read more ..


Obama's second Term

Obama Set to Host US-Africa Summit

August 3rd 2014

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President Obama will be welcoming more than 50 African leaders for a three-day U.S.-Africa summit to begin August 4 in Washington, D.C.

Not invited are the presidents of four countries with a record of human rights violations: Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Central African Republic. The leaders of Sierra Leone and Liberia have canceled their trips because of the Ebola outbreak in their countries.

At the summit, the U.S. is expected to unveil nearly $1 billion in business deals, more funding for peacekeeping, and commit billions more dollars to food and power programs in Africa. Administration officials say it’s an opportunity to discuss the future of an economically-growing continent, and address questions about how the U.S. can become a closer partner.

Themed “Investing in the Next Generation," the summit meetings will be designed to identify shared interests that will be needed if the continent is to meet the needs of its young people: health care, education, and work place opportunities. At a time when armed conflict has created a humanitarian emergencies in Central African Republic and South Sudan, and East and West African countries are fighting the spread of radical Islamists, the first goal is to ensure peace and stability needed for development. Read more ..


Inside Politics

McConnell, Grimes Throw Punches at Fancy Kentucky Farm

August 2nd 2014

McConnell Mitch

The contrast was stark and the messages crystal clear at Saturday’s Fancy Farm faceoff between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Grimes, the secretary of State, emphasized her youth and freshness against McConnell’s age and long tenure in Washington. Making her pitch to women voters, at one point she compared McConnell to the hit show “Mad Men”: “Treating women unfairly, stuck in 1968 and ending this season.”

But McConnell hammered home both Grimes’ inexperience and ties to President Obama in a one-two punch of sorts, rattling off a list of similarities between the two: “He was only two years into his first big job when he started campaigning for the next one…his campaign raised millions from extreme liberals…he really didn’t have any qualifications.”
“Sound familiar?” McConnell asked, to cheers from the crowd.

The unofficial kickoff of the fall campaign season in the Bluegrass State brought more than two dozen elected officials and candidates -- accompanied by a record crowd of nearly 20,000 --  out to enjoy the barbecue and political fisticuffs at the 134th annual church fundraiser that’s become a political tradition in the small western Kentucky town of Fancy Farm.

Grimes knocked McConnell for his unpopularity — “35 is my age, that’s also Senator McConnell’s approval rating” — and for his campaign gaffes, declaring that the barbecue “smells so good, even [campaign manager] Jesse Benton stopped holding his nose,” a reference to a leaked tape of a conversation Benton had in which the former aide to Tea Party-backed Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) admitted he was “holding my nose” to work with the state’s other senator on his reelection fight. Read more ..


Broken Government

Obama Vows to Act Alone on Border Security

August 1st 2014

President Obama on Friday vowed to “act alone” if Congress fails to pass a supplemental funding bill to deal with child immigrants crossing the border.

Obama said federal authorities don’t have the resources to deal with the wave of unaccompanied children unless action is taken.

"I'm gonna have to act alone because we don't have enough resources. We're going to run out of money," he said.
He also ripped into Republicans for failing to approve legislation. The House is set to consider a $694 million funding bill later today — far less than the $3.7 billion requested by Obama.

Obama torched the GOP legislation, calling it is “a message bill” and saying Republicans are “not trying to solve the problem.” Read more ..


The 2014 Vote

Democrats Fear 2014 Election Rout

August 1st 2014

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Record-low primary election turnout is threatening to magnify Democratic midterm worries.

Both parties have made their “get out the vote” programs a top priority for November, investing millions in building bigger ground operations earlier than ever before.

The challenge is most dire for Democrats, who are defending a fragile six-seat Senate majority that relies on a handful of races in hostile, GOP-leaning territory — and trying to pick up House seats in a difficult year, politically. Read more ..


Washington on Edge

Former House Leader Cantor Resigns Early

August 1st 2014

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Now-former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will resign from Congress on Aug. 18, nearly two months after his surprise GOP primary defeat.

Cantor announced his plans in an interview with his hometown newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the same day he officially stepped down from GOP leadership.

According to Cantor, his decision is timed so that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) can call a special election to coincide with the regular Nov. 4 general election.
“I want to make sure that the constituents in the 7th District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session,” he told the Times-Dispatch.

Long seen as the Speaker-in-waiting, the 14-year incumbent was dealt a surprising defeat at the hands of Randolph-Macon economics professor Dave Brat (R) on June 10. Cantor has since endorsed Brat, who faces another Randolph-Macon professor, Democrat Jack Trammell, in November in the heavily Republican district.

"I hope he will win," Cantor reiterated in support of Brat.

Earlier Thursday, Cantor bid his colleagues farewell one last time in an emotional speech before he passed the torch to incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Read more ..


Broken Government

House Republican Leadership Kills Border Bill

July 31st 2014

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House GOP leaders canceled a Thursday vote on their $659 million border bill after failing to win over conservative members who opposed giving any more money to President Obama.

A significant number of Republicans had balked at sending any money to the White House for the border, and Democrats were generally united in opposing the measure.

The decision is another defeat for House GOP leaders, who have repeatedly failed to bring their members in line on tough votes.
Signs of trouble emerged late Wednesday night when the House Rules Committee delayed reporting a rule for the border bill. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Hamas Terror Cell Received Advanced Training in Malaysia

July 31st 2014

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IDF forces have captured several hundred Hamas terrorists over the course of Operation 'Protective Edge'. Many of them have been turned over for further questioning and investigation. The questioning of one of the terrorists revealed another of Hamas' plans to kill and abduct Israeli soldiers and civilians. A Shabak investigation exposed that Hamas terrorists received training in Malaysia and Gaza to infiltrate Israel by air to kidnap and murder Israelis.

In the early hours of July 21st, IDF forces captured a Hamas cell commander in Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza. When questioned by the Shabak, also known as the Shin Bet Security Service, the cell commander revealed that he had been sent by Hamas leadership to Malaysia for paragliding training. The plan was to parachute into Israel to kidnap and murder civilians. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Obama Says to GOP: Stop the 'Hating' and Being 'Mad' All the Time

July 31st 2014

President Obama asked Republicans to stop “hating” and “being mad all the time” during a Wednesday speech in Kansas City, Mo., focused on the economy.

The president accused GOP lawmakers of needlessly suing him, instead of doing their jobs. He said they should be more focused on the economy.

“They have not been that helpful,” Obama told a crowd in a local theater. “They have not been as constructive as I would have hoped and these actions come with a cost.”

The House is set to vote later on Wednesday on legislation authorizing a lawsuit against Obama over his use of executive actions, particularly to delay ObamaCare’s employer health insurance mandate. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Gaza UN Facility Denounces Weapons Cache Found On its Premises

July 30th 2014

Hamas Terrorist with Rocket

A hidden weapons cache was discovered in an UNRWA school in Gaza on Tuesday, marking the third incident of this kind in the span of two weeks. Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, did not name a responsible party, but quickly criticized whoever was responsible for hiding the weapons in the school. “We condemn the group or groups who endangered civilians by placing these munitions in our school,” said UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness, in a statement. “This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of UN property.” UNRWA said it sent a UN munitions expert to disarm and remove the weapons but could not reach the site “because of fighting in the vicinity,” it said in the statement. “But we hope to do as soon as the security conditions allow.”

The chief of the Hamas military wing Mohammed Deif on Tuesday said the militant wing will not agree to a ceasefire until its demands are met and Israel lifts its blockade of the coastal enclave. " Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

'Protracted Campaign' Seen as Israel Neutralizes Gaza Tunnels and Missiles

July 29th 2014

Hamas Tunnel

Israel's military pounded targets in the Gaza Strip on overnight on July 28-29 after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country needed to be prepared for a long conflict in the Palestinian enclave, squashing any hopes of a swift end to 22 days of fighting. Israeli aircraft, tanks and navy gunboats targeted symbols of Hamas control, firing on the house of Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh before dawn on July 29, causing damage but no casualties, Gaza's interior ministry said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no information on the report but was checking for details. The spokesperson said 70 targets were struck in Gaza through the night. At least 30 people were killed in the assaults from air, land and sea, residents said, after a night of the most widespread attacks so far in the coastal enclave. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Former SecState Albright Confirms 'The World is a Mess'

July 28th 2014

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on the July 27 broadcast of CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ that “the world is a mess.” Interviewed by host Bob Schieffer, the veteran diplomat said “Can you recall a time when there was so much trouble in so many different places around the world?”

“We all grew up in a very different era where we were focused on the threat from the Soviet Union and that was the major activity and it clearly was dangerous, but what has happened now is that we are seeing problems in a variety of places,” Albright said. Albright served during the Clinton administration.

Noting the growing importance of globalization and technology, Albright said “There is so much connectivity, but also not an understanding of all the various pieces of the news that come into us.” Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Veteran Israeli Analyst Calls Kerry's Ceasefire Proposal a 'Betrayal'

July 27th 2014

Kerry and

David Horovitz, a veteran Israeli analyst and editor-in-chief of the Times of Israel, called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's latest ceasefire proposal a "betrayal" in an article published Sunday.

Read
John Kerry: The Betrayal

Horovitz called it "inconceivable" that the proposal did not require the dismantling of Hamas’s rocket arsenal and network of tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Yet the reported text did not address these issues at all, nor call for the demilitarization of Gaza. It seemed inconceivable that the secretary’s initiative would specify the need to address Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the siege of Gaza, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party acting in the interests of the people of Gaza

He called it an attempt "to accommodate a vicious terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction, with a formula that would leave Hamas better equipped to achieve that goal." Read more ..


The Battle for Ukraine

Russian Arms Transfer Imminent for Putin's Proxies in Ukraine

July 27th 2014

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Police monitors from Australia and the Netherlands postponed plans on July 27 to visit the Malaysian airliner crash site in eastern Ukraine, citing security concerns as fighting continues in the area. All 298 people on the Boeing 777 were killed when the plane was shot down ten days ago en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. It fell in a rebel-held area of the Donetsk region, where fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists has raged for months.

Dozens of Dutch and Australian officials arrived to investigate and aid in the recovery of human remains amid reports of evidence-tampering at the scene. Malaysia said on July 27 it would also be sending dozens of police to support the investigation. Rebel leader Alexander Borodai agreed last week to allow international investigators safe access to the site. Read more ..


The Caliphate

ISIS Kills 50 Syrian Soldiers, Beheads Many In Raqqa

July 26th 2014

ISIL execution victims

At least 50 soldiers of the Syrian Army’s 17th division were killed and a number of them were beheaded Friday during an ambush by fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The attack was mounted on an army base outside the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, which is controlled by ISIS.

“At least 50 soldiers were ambushed, some of them were killed in fighting, but most of them were beheaded,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quoted in an Agence France-Presse report. During the same offensive, 74 people were killed in the last 24 hours, the human-rights group said.

Read more ..

The Battle for Libya

U.S. Embassy in Libya Evacuated

July 26th 2014

Egypt border post attacked by Libyans

The U.S. Embassy in Libya evacuated its personnel on Saturday because of heavy militia violence raging in the capital, Tripoli, the State Department said.

About 150 personnel, including 80 U.S. Marines were evacuated from the embassy in the early hours of Saturday morning and were driven across the border into Tunisia, U.S. officials confirm to CNN.

CNN has learned the plan to evacuate the Americans was in the works for several days, but the decision to carry out the plan was made just in the last few days as the security situation around the embassy deteriorated. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the United States is grateful to Tunisia "for its cooperation and support." She said the personnel are "traveling onward" from Tunisia. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Obama Huddles with Central American Presidents on Immigrant Surge

July 26th 2014

President Obama said Friday that migrant children who cross the border and do not have “proper claims” will be sent back to their home countries.

Obama made the remarks during a meeting at the White House with the leaders of three Central American countries that are home to many of the young immigrants who have been flooding across the border.

The White House is trying to work with the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to reduce the number of immigrants seeking to enter the United States. “I emphasized that the American people and my administration have great compassion for these children,” Obama told reporters gathered in the Cabinet Room at the end of the meeting, according to a White House pool report. “But I also emphasized to my friends that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at risk.”

Obama met with Presidents Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala, Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras and Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

No Ceasefire In Sight as Secretary Kerry's Proposal is Rejected

July 25th 2014

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Israel has rejected a proposal presented by Secretary of State John Kerry for a cease-fire between Israel's military and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Israeli medi reported.. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet reportedly have voted against the proposal as it stands and are seeking modifications before any agreement to end hostilities.

U.S. and U.N. diplomats continued to work into the night on a possible cease-fire plan in the Gaza Strip, where more than two weeks of intense fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants has sent the death toll soaring among Palestinian civilians. Some 34 Israeli soldiers have been killed, while more than 800 Palestinians have died.

The New York Times and Washington Post reported that Kerry has proposed a plan that would begin with a week-long truce starting on July 27, which marks the start of Eid, the holiday concluding the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Israel Foils Mass Hamas Terrorist Tttack

July 25th 2014

Hamas Terrorist with Rocket

A security source tells i24news Friday the Israeli army has foiled a massive terrorist attack, planned to take place on the Jewish new year, celebrated in the month of September.

According to the report, thousands of terrorist were meant to cross over to Israel from Gaza through the tunnels and kill and kidnap as many Israelis as they could. The source added that the army learned about the huge planned attack during the interrogations of Hamas prisoners, captured during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said during Thursday's cabinet meeting that the army has succeeded in foiling an attack which could have caused a number of fatalities even higher than the 2,222 fatalities Israel suffered during 1973 Yom Kippur War

The fighting in Gaza continues despite the international pressure for a ceasefire. At this point in time the Israeli army (IDF) and the government are in complete agreement that the ground operation should go on until Hamas' tunnels are destroyed. Israel now is waiting for Monday, when the UN Security Council is scheduled to convene. "It would be hard to ignore any decision of the Security Council," an Israeli source said Wednesday. "But despite its importance, we need more time, maybe a few more days, to hit Hamas," he added. Israel's security cabinet is due to convene later on Friday for a military update on Gaza. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

White House Joins EU in Demanding Hamas Demilitarize Gaza for Cease-Fire

July 24th 2014

Gaza Qasam Rocket

A top White House adviser says any cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestinians must include the demilitarization of Gaza.

In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said "that needs to be the end result."

"There has to be some way forward that does not involve Hamas having the ability to continue to rain down rockets on Israeli civilians," Blinken said.

Asked if this means the U.S. has endorsed Israel's demand that Hamas give up its weapons, Blinken said:

"One of the results, one would hope, of a cease-fire would be some form of demilitarization, so that again, this doesn't continue, doesn't repeat itself. This is what we've seen happen multiple times over the past few years, which is these rockets coming from Gaza, which Hamas controls, as well as more recently the tunneling to Israel with terrorists trying to infiltrate Israel. And no country can accept that. So that needs to be the end result of this process." Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

Islamic State Orders All Women in Northern Iraq Submit to Genital Mutilation

July 24th 2014

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The UN says militant Islamist group Isis, the so-called Islamic State, has ordered all women and girls in Mosul, northern Iraq, to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM). The procedure involves the surgical removal of the clitoris and, in some cases, the labia of the victims. According to a BBC report, Jacqueline Badcock of the United Nations said that the religious edict applied to females between the ages of 11 and 46.

Badcock expressed grave concern over what she termed an unprecedented fatwa decree issued by the Islamists who control the city. Badcock, who is the UN's resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, told reporters via videolink from Irbil that the practice "is something very new for Iraq... and does need to be addressed." "This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists," she added. Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

Islamic State Occupies Ancient Iraqi Christian Monastery and Threatens Christians

July 24th 2014

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On July 20, the self-proclaimed "Islamic Caliphate" took possession of the ancient Syrian Catholic monastery of Mar Behnam, ten minutes from the city of Qaraqosh.

Syrian Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Moshe of Mosul told the Fides news agency that armed Islamist militiamen of the Caliphate "imposed on the three monks and a few families living in the monastery to go away and leave the keys." Christians fear that the Islamists will desecrate and vandalize the monastery in much the same way they have done so at other Christian sites as well as places revered by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam such as the tomb of the Prophet Jonah.

Mosul has been emptied of Christians ever since they received word from the Islamists on July 18 that they must leave, convert to Islam or face death. Christians of Qaraqosh, a city only a few kilometers from Mar Behnam, are increasingly alarmed. Christian residential and business properties were marked by the insurgents so as to identify them for dispossession by Muslims once the owners have fled. Read more ..



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