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The Battle for Ukraine

Russian Incursion into Ukraine--Fires Artillery without Resistance

August 22nd 2014

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Russian convoy

Russia has emplaced army artillery units manned by Russian personnel inside Ukraine and is firing at Ukrainian military units. NATO officials averred the report on August 22. This is the first time NATO has announced that it had evidence of the direct involvement of the Russian military in the fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists. Currently, Ukraine is fighting a pitched battle with the separatists in the eastern cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.

The former has been without water, electricity or phone services for nearly two weeks. This report came on the same day that a convoy of Russian trucks, ostensibly carrying only humanitarian supplies, crossed from Russia into Ukraine without official permission from the government in Kyiv. A statement from the Ukrainian government concurred that Russian artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine — is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

American and European Diplomats Working on UN Security Council Resolution on Gaza War

August 22nd 2014

Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations

U.N. diplomats say the United States and European nations are working on a Security Council resolution to end fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

A two-page document circulated Thursday calls for an immediate end to Hamas rocket attacks and Israeli military operations that have killed over 2,050 Palestinians and 67 Israelis in the past six weeks.

The document also calls for lifting the long-standing Israeli blockade of Gaza, opening all border crossings into the coastal enclave, and returning the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to control there.

An international monitoring mechanism would be established in order to verify those steps, as well as to ensure the flow of goods entering Gaza does not include weapons or tunnel-building materials for Hamas. Read more ..


Terrorism at Home

Defense Department is Increasingly Worried about Radicalized Muslim Americans and Europeans

August 21st 2014

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel briefed reporters on August 21 at the Pentagon on the major threat that the Islamic State poses to the United States. "They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it's in Iraq or anywhere else," Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon. When asked if the Islamic State, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims, poses a threat comparable to that of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Hagel said it was "as sophisticated and well-funded as any group we have seen." He added, "They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of ... military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we've seen."

This assessment of Islamic State, whose strength has snowballed throughout the year as it moved from Syria to northern Iraq, came just days after the group posted a video on social media showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Hamas Admits to the Kidnapping and Murder of 3 Teens, Calling it "a Blessed Heroic Act"

August 21st 2014

Sorrow-Pain

A senior Hamas official indicated on Wednesday that Hamas was responsible for the June 12 kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teens near Hebron. The three were picked up while hitchhiking at a junction in Judea south of Jerusalem, sparking a nationwide manhunt that ended when their bodies were discovered several weeks later.

The admission by Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri came during a conference of Muslim scholars. In a recording of the conference, al-Arouri is heard praising the "kidnapping to Hebron of the three settlers," describing it as “blessed heroic action” which was “carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades,” Hamas's military wing.

The terror group has a large political and military presence throughout Judea and Samaria. Hebron has long been a Hamas stronghold, leading Israeli intelligence to suspect Hamas operatives located in the vicinity of the attack, and to the subsequent roundup of hundreds of Hamas members throughout the region. Hamas retaliated to the arrests with a continuous barrage of rocket fire from the Gaza strip aimed at Israeli civilians throughout the country, compelling Israel to launch Operation Protective Edge to defend its population. Read more ..


Broken Government

AG Holder Meets with Parents of Michael Brown of Ferguson MO

August 21st 2014

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Attorney General Eric Holder met with the parents of Michael Brown Wednesday afternoon at the Eagleton federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis.

They met at the office of the U.S. attorney investigating the Aug. 9 shooting of the African-American teenager, whose death at the hands of police has sparked riots.

Holder also met with Sen. Claire McCaskill, who has huddled in recent days with community leaders in Ferguson, where the shooting took place. Reps. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) joined the meeting along with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

Blunt has pressed Holder to allow state and local officials to complete their investigation of the shooting. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Obama's Failed Attempt to Free American Journalist Beheaded by Islamic State

August 21st 2014

U.S. special forces attempted an unsuccessful rescue operation in Syria earlier this summer to free American journalist James Foley and other hostages being held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), administration officials said Wednesday.

The administration disclosed the mission one day after ISIS released a video showing a member of the extremist group beheading Foley. The group is threatening to kill another U.S. journalist in captivity, unless the U.S. halts airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.

“The President authorized action at this time because it was the national security team’s assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in ISIL custody,” said Obama Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco in a statement, using an alternate name for the terror group. Read more ..


Bordering on Crisis

Catholic Bishop Condemns Mexico's Treatment of Migrants

August 20th 2014

"Human trafficking is modern-day slavery that affects mainly women and children", said Catholic Bishop Raúl Vera of Saltillo, the capital of the Mexican state of Coahila. He denounced that the number of people who are victims of human trafficking and exploitation is on the rise while Mexican authorities do little about it. This comes while thousands of Central American migrants, fearful of narcotics-fuelled violence, lackadaisical govrenment, and poverty continue to seek refuge in the United States. Relying on smugglers, migrants cross the border into the U.S. while many fall victim to violent smugglers and drug gangs, or succumb to the heat of the desert.

"Migrants are the sector that suffers the most in Coahuila, and they are part of the population who are completely unprotected." said Bishop Vera López on August 19. He noted that the problem of human trafficking stems from the migration of people (especially El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) who are seeking a better life or reunion with family members in the U.S.  Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

White House is 'Appalled' by ISIS Murder of American Journalist

August 20th 2014

James Foley, RIP

The Islamic State militant group has released a video purportedly showing the beheading of a American journalist. The video, titled "A Message To America," was posted on social media sites on August 19. A man dressed in black, with a covered face, demanded in the video to a cessation of the current air strikes against IS positions by the United States.

The victim was identified by the militants as James Foley, a freelancer who was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012. In the five-minute video, a masked militant who speaks with a British accent says Foley was killed in revenge for recent U.S. air strikes against IS positions in northern Iraq. Moments before his death, Foley was heard to say on the video "I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope for freedom to see my family once again." Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Israel Strikes at the Heart of Hamas as Ceasefire Breaks Down

August 20th 2014

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Israel attempted to assassinate Hamas commander Muhammed Deif in an airstrike on Gaza following a series of rocket volleys originating in Gaza. Deif’s wife and child were killed, while a third unidentified body was found. Israel, however, Israel has not confirmed that the body is Deif’s. He had survived an earlier attempt on his life by Israeli defense forces. Deif has topped Israel's wanted lists for years, as mastermind of deadly suicide bombings more than a decade ago. He is currently believed to be a behind-the-scenes leader of Hamas's campaign against Israel.

Palestinian health officials said the strike on a house in Gaza City killed three people but did not provide any details about the third victim. Palestinian medical sources claim that at least 16 Gazans have been killed since August 19.

The air strike was one of a series of responses by the Israeli air force to renewed attacks from Gaza. The strikes have killed 11 Palestinians, according to Hamas. For its part, Israel has recalled 2,000 reservists who had been sent home during a truce between the sides. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Gazan Terrorists Kill Ceasefire - Rockets Fired at Beer Sheva Area

August 19th 2014

Close-up Hamas terrorist balaclava bullets AK-47

Terrorists from Gaza fired three long-range rockets at the Beer Sheva area this afternoon, thus ending the 8 day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. No terror organization has yet to claim responsibility for the attack.

An IDF spokesman confirmed that the three rockets fell in open areas, causing no damage or injuries. Reports indicate that no warning sirens were sounded when the rockets exploded in Israel. Further initial reports indicate that Israel's government has ordered the IDF to resume its strikes against terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. 

Shai Hajaj, Head of the Merchavim Municipal Council in the Negev, voiced concern and disappointment on the current situation: "The terrorist organizations lead by Hamas do not respect agreements time after time. We will not accept fire on our communities and the government must care for the safety of its citizens. The school year is scheduled to commence in the coming days and the buildings are not properly fortified. There are only a few bomb shelters which cannot properly facilitate the student population, and they are too far away to reach in time," he said. Read more ..


Broken Government

Despite the Missouri National Guard, Disturbances Still Wrack Ferguson

August 19th 2014

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Protesters and police engaged in fresh clashes late on August 18 in Ferguson, Missouri, amid tensions linked to the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer.

Police in riot gear fired stun grenades and tear gas at protesters who gathered on the streets of Ferguson, which had descended into chaos following peaceful protests. Molotov cocktails were thrown in the direction of heavily armored police, and gunshots were fired.

A police official, Captain Ron Johnson, told reporters early on August 18 that police came under heavy attack but did not fire a shot. He said two people were wounded by shots fired from within the crowd of protesters. Many protesters seemed to be defying orders from police to disperse, and Johnson said 31 people were arrested. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Obama is Sending Attorney General Holder to Ferguson MO

August 18th 2014

Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday as part of the Justice Department’s investigation of the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager.

Holder will meet with law enforcement and other officials about the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer, President Obama announced Monday.

The shooting has set off two weeks of demonstrations, as well as rioting and looting, in the St. Louis suburb. Police and witnesses have given different stories about how Brown was killed. An initial autopsy by Brown’s family revealed he had been shot six times. Read more ..


Broken Government

Missouri Governor Cancels Midnight Curfew for Ferguson but Sends in Troops

August 18th 2014

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In a statement released today, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) rescinded a midnight curfew in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, which entered its second week of rioting with two consecutive nights of chaos. Governor Nixon spelled the reasons for sending the Missouri National Guard to beleaguered Ferguson. The Guard is coming, said the governor, to "provide protection" and ensure the safety of the police command center that was attacked on the night of August 17.

The St Louis suburb has been sundered by protests and arson and other acts violence ever since the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown (18) by police officer Darren Wilson. Read more ..


Broken Government

House Speaker Boehner admits Obama 'Not Prepared for the Job'

August 18th 2014

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) blasted President Obama’s domestic and foreign policies in a recent radio interview, saying Obama was “not prepared for the job.”

“While the president thinks that giving a speech is leadership, it really isn’t,” Boehner told Scott Hennen of KTGO in North Dakota.

Boehner, who’s in the middle of a multi-state bus tour appearing at events for members and candidates, said the president’s policies have not worked, but “he won’t admit that.“
He said people still asking, ”Where are the jobs?” Read more ..


America on Edge

Curfew and State of Emegency Declared in Ferguson

August 17th 2014

Paramilitary police Ferguson Missouri

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency and a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m., in Ferguson, Mo., on Saturday. Protests erupted over the past week after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. As looters attacked local businesses Friday night and others guarded stores to protect them from theft, Nixon imposed a curvew to "maintain peace.”

"We will not allow a handful of looters to endanger the rest of this community,” Nixon said at a news conference in Ferguson. “If we're going to achieve justice, we must first have and maintain peace.”

Nixon earlier in the week replaced the St. Louis County police, who had been criticized for using tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters, with the Missouri Highway Patrol, who took a more hands-off approach. Read more ..


Broken Government

Perry Calls Indictment 'Abuse Of Power,' Vows To Fight Charges

August 16th 2014

Rick Perry - Texas 2014

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) forcefully stood behind his actions after he was indicted on Friday, and called the decision to charge him "an abuse of power."

Perry was indicted on felony charges by a grand jury in Austin for allegedly abusing his veto power to force the resignation of a Democratic prosecutor. The charges point to a threat Perry made to veto funding for the public corruption unit under Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, unless she resigned after a drunk driving arrest. She did not resign and Perry vetoed the funding.

Prosecutors say the threat was abuse of his official capacity and coercion of a public servant, but Perry stands by his actions.

"I exercised this authority to veto funding for an office whose leadership had lost the public's confidence," he said at a press conference Saturday in Austin, the state capital. "I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto." 

Perry ran for president in 2012 and appears to be considering another run, having made high profile visits to Iowa.

He said the indictment was politically motivated. "We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country," he said. The governor went on rhetorical offense, setting up a situation where both Perry and the prosecution accuse each other of abusing power. Read more ..


Financing the Flames

UN Funds Organization Seeking to Prosecute IDF soldiers

August 15th 2014

Chinese currency

Read more ..

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

airplanes shadows

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

Obama game face

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

Click to select Image

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 ..



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