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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 ..

Cyber Crime

Arrests Forthcoming for International Cyber Fraud Ring the Preyed on eBay's StubHub

July 23rd 2014

Shadowy Computer User

eBay Inc.'s StubHub online ticket resale service said it was the victim of a massive international cyber fraud ring, the details of which authorities plan to disclose on Wednesday as they announce arrests in the case.

Cyber thieves got into more than 1,000 StubHub customers' accounts and fraudulently bought tickets for events through the online ticket reseller, a law enforcement official and the company said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

StubHub's head of global communications, Glenn Lehrman, told Reuters late on Tuesday that his firm has been working with law enforcement around the world for the last year on the case.

Lehrman said he could not say how much money was involved or how many people were being charged ahead of announcements planned by authorities in several countries on Wednesday. Read more ..

The Battle for Ukraine

Bodies of Doomed Malaysian Airlines Flight Are Being Transported to The Netherlands

July 22nd 2014

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The remains of some of the nearly 300 victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane downed over Ukraine were making their way to the Netherlands on July 22 as a senior Ukrainian separatist leader handed over the plane's black boxes to Malaysian experts.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a news conference on July 21 that a train carrying around 200 body bags was on its way to rebel-held Donetsk and then to Kharkiv, where it arrived around 0841 GMT on Tuesday. Kharkiv is in Ukrainian government hands.

The bodies were then to be taken back to the Netherlands to be identified.

The train left the crash site after the Malaysian prime minister reached agreement with the separatists for recovered bodies to be handed over to authorities in the Netherlands, where the largest number of victims came from.

Rutte also said that the bodies of some of the 298 people killed in the crash last week are in a part of the country controlled by the Ukraine government. One of those killed was an American. Most of the victims, however, were Dutch. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Christians United for Israel Conference Seeks to Remind Obama and Congress of Iranian Threat

July 21st 2014

Iran Long-Range Missile
Iranian troops parade

In Washington DC, Christians United for Israel – a U.S.-based advocacy group – is gathering for a conference that comes during a critical time for the survival of the Jewish state and the people of Israel.

Click here to see live coverage

The security forces of Israel are now entering the second week of a conflict with the Hamas terrorist organization that had been lobbing missiles into Israel over the last month. The conference began on July 20 and continues until July 22.

Among the speakers slated to appear are Evangelical pastor John Hagee, columnist Charles Krauthammer, publisher Bill Kristol, as well as author and activist Dennis Praeger. The opening panel discussion touched on the ongoing Iran crisis. The CUFI website stated, “Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terror and on the cusp of developing nuclear weapons. The dangers of this regime cannot be understated but they must be understood.” Those speaking included former National Security Council official Elliot Abrams, and former CIA director James Woolsey. Read more ..

Egypt on Edge

Egypt Vows Retaliation for Deadly Libyan Islamist Attack on Border Post

July 21st 2014

In a statement, Egypt vowed to retaliate for a strike on a western border post that cost the lives of 21 members of its security forces along the border shared with Libya. It was on July 19 that militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns at a border checkpoint, approximately 600 miles west of Cairo. Besides the 22 fatalities, four Egyptian border guards were wounded.

The Egyptian military claimed that the guards were killed with an RPG detonated an ammunition depot at the El-Farafrah border security post. In a July 20 statement, Egypt's presidency said "the heinous crime that took these brave souls and spilled their blood will not go unanswered.”

"The heinous crime that took these brave souls and spilled their blood will not go unanswered," a statement from the Egyptian presidency said. "Terrorism will be uprooted from every part of Egypt." The dead were buried on July 20. Read more ..

Malaysia Flight MH17

Russia's 'Shambolic' Self-Investigation of Shoot-Down of Malaysia Flight MH17

July 21st 2014

On July 21, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott condemned what he termed a  "shambolic" situation at the MH17 crash site as he demanded Russian President Vladimir Putin back up assurances with action.

At least 37 Australian passengers were among the 298 people aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, shot down over eastern Ukraine in an attack the West has blamed on separatist rebels armed by Russia.

“This is still an absolutely shambolic situation, it is an absolutely shambolic situation. It does look more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Canberra.

“There's no doubt that at the moment the site is under the control of the Russian backed rebels and given the almost certain culpability of the Russian-backed rebels in the downing of the aircraft having those people in control of the site is a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene,” he said. Read more ..

The Battle for Iraq

Islamic Cleansing of Iraqi Christians Nearly Accomplished

July 20th 2014

During a Sunday sermon, Pope Francis expressed concern for Christians forced to flee Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, where Christians have resided for centuries. During his traditional blessing of pilgrims assembled in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on July 20, the pontiff offered prayers for Christians in Iraq who "are persecuted, chased away, forced to leave their houses without out the possibility of taking anything" with them. It has been reported that the last Christians living in Mosul have left, while many of them headed for the Kurdish region to the north.

Members of the ISIS Islamist terrorist organization currently battling the Iraqi government began issuing over mosque loudspeakers an ultimatum on July 17: pay a head tax known as jizya, convert to Islam, or face death. Iraq’s Christian community dates back to the time of the apostles of Jesus, sending missionaries during the first centuries of the first millennium as far away as China and India.

Pope Francis called for dialogue instead of death-dealing. He said "violence is not overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace." Read more ..

The Caliphate

Facing Fines, Conversion or Death, Christian Families Flee Mosul

July 20th 2014

ISIL execution crucifixion Iraq

Just days after the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria said they killed hundreds of Syrians, dozens of Iraqi Christian families are now fleeing the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul, hoping to avoid a similar fate.

On Friday, the al Qaeda splinter group issued an ultimatum to Iraqi Christians living in Mosul -- by Saturday at noon (5 a.m. ET), they must convert to Islam, pay a fine or face "death by the sword."

A total of 52 Christian families left the city of Mosul early Saturday morning, with an armed group prohibiting some of them from taking anything but the clothes on their backs. "They told us, 'You to leave all of your money, gold, jewelry and go out with only the clothes on you,'" Wadie Salim told CNN. Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Egyptian Military Block Activist Convoy to Gaza

July 19th 2014

Rafah crossing

Egyptian soldiers in north Sinai prevented an aid convoy of activists from reaching the Rafah border crossing with the embattled Palestinian Gaza Strip on Saturday. An army officer at the Balloza checkpoint, one of many along the desert highway to Rafah stated the security situation in the restive peninsula was too unstable to allow the convoy of 11 buses and 500 activists to pass. There was a brief scuffle between some activists and soldiers but no arrests were made. Egypt usually keeps the crossing closed, citing a counter-insurgency operation against militants in north Sinai, but has allowed entry to Palestinians wounded in the 12-day conflict between Hamas and Israel.

The Egyptian military had earlier said it was sending 500 tonnes of food and medical aide to the besieged enclave. Hamas, militant Islamist rulers of Gaza, have refused to accept a ceasefire with Israel until it receives guarantees that border crossings to Gaza -- all but one under Israeli control -- will be opened.

The Battle for the Ukraine

Obama Blames Russia for Malaysian Airliner Shootdown

July 18th 2014

Obama speechifying

President Obama said at least one American died in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which he said was taken down by a surface-to-air missile launched from territory controlled by the Russian separatists. Obama didn’t say the missile was fired by Russian militants and cautioned that the U.S. was still collecting facts. But he also blamed Russia’s government for doing too little to control militias aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, saying violence in the region had been “facilitated … in large part because of Russian support.” Obama said, “Nearly 300 innocent lives were taken — men, women, children, infants who had nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine, Their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportions.” Read more ..

The Battle for Ukraine

Malaysian Airliner Carrying 295 People Crashes in Eastern Ukraine

July 17th 2014

Malaysia airlines

A Malaysian Airlines jetliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed Thursday in eastern Ukraine, and Ukrainian government officials said pro-Russian insurgents had shot down the plane.

The Boeing 777, carrying 295 people, went down in a rural part of the Donetsk region, not far from the Russian border, where the Russian-backed fighters have battled Ukraine governement troops in what increasingly resembles all-out war.

Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that the plane had 280 passengers and 15 crew members and lost contact with Ukrainian air-traffic control at around 2:15 p.m. UTC. Anton Gerashchenko, a top aide to Ukraine's interior minister, said the airliner was hit by a surface-to-air missile.

In a posting on his Facebook page, Gerashenko said the plane was flying at 33,000 feet when it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. The Buk is a sophisticated, medium-range, Russian-designed surface-to-air system that can fire missiles up to 72,000 feet. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he didn't rule out that the airliner was shot down. Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

IDF Orders Gazans to Evacuate Their Homes, Again

July 16th 2014


As a prelude to the intensification of air strikes and a possible ground incursion into Gaza the IDF has again dropped leaflets over Beit Lahiya, Saja’iya and Zeitune in northern Gaza, ordering the civilians there to leave their homes so that they are not harmed by the escalating warfare in the area. The IDF has further sent recorded messages.

In the leaflets the IDF states that: “Despite the cease fire, Hamas and other terror groups have continued to fire, and therefore the IDF intends to attack terror targets in these areas. From these areas rockets are launched at Israel. For your safety, we ask you to leave immediately and move towards Gaza City. The IDF has no intention of harming you or your families. This evacuation is meant to save your lives. Anyone who does not heed these instructions endangers himself and his family.”  The deadline was set at 8:00 this morning. Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Israel Accepts Cease Fire; Hamas Rejects It -- Gaza Operation Continues

July 15th 2014

Hamas protester

Eight days after the commencing of Operation 'Protective Edge' Israel's Security Cabinet voted this morning in favor of the cease fire with Hamas, brokered by Egypt. Six ministers voted with PM Netanyahu in favor of accepting the cease fire; Ministers Lieberman and Bennet voted against.

According to several Arab media sites Hamas has rejected the cease fire. They have fired several mortar shells and rockets at Israel since the cease fire has come into effect.   

Several of PM Netanyahu's political party members voiced strong opposition to the acceptance of a cease fire at such an early stage in the campaign.

They believe that the IDF could have done much more to decimate Hamas's capabilities. Minister of Transportation Yisarel Katz stated: "The rocket threat has not been removed and Hamas's leadership was not annihilated. If we would have won the world would have stood up and applauded. Ending the campaign in this fashion will bring immense pressure on Israel." Deputy Minister of Defense Danny Dannon thinks the government could have done much more to defend its citizens. Read more ..

Bordering on Crisis

Nebraska Governor Accuses Obama Administration of Secret Operations involving Immigrant Minors

July 15th 2014

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) pressed the Obama administration Monday to give him the names of nearly 200 children in his state who had been apprehended entering the country illegally.

"We want to know the names of those individuals, who their sponsor is, is their sponsor legal, what communities did you send them to," Heineman said. "Why are they conducting a secret operation essentially — transporting them all over the country, and now we learn to Nebraska, and the federal government won't tell us what is going on."

The governor said on "Fox and Friends" that he learned from Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns (R) that the federal government had moved the children to the state amid the large influx being apprehended crossing over the Texas-Mexico border — mainly originating from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
"I'm concerned, it is 200 today, how many is it tomorrow?" Heineman asked. Read more ..

Bordering on Crisis

U.S. Military Feels the Pinch Due to Immigrant Surge on U.S./Mexico Border

July 15th 2014

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Lawmakers warn President Obama is shortchanging the military by calling it into action at the U.S. border without providing a boost in funding.

“President Barack Obama has already decimated the military with budget cuts and the lack of overall strategy; now he’s asking them to do more,” said Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) in an op-ed published Monday.

Obama last week requested $3.7 billion from Congress to respond to the flow of children crossing the border but that did not include additional funding for the military, which is housing thousands of immigrant children and trying to contain the violent drug trade. Military officials say there’s a direct link between drug traffickers and the influx of immigrants from Central America, but that they lack the resources they need to combat the problem at the source. Read more ..

The Battle for Iraq

Iraqi Parliament Fails to Create New Government While Shiite Militants Strike in Baghdad

July 14th 2014

ISIL execution crucifixion Iraq
Iraqi executed by ISIS Sunni terrorists

At least 29 people, including 20 women, were shot dead in Iraq in an apparent attack on a brothel in Baghdad. Shiite militants are suspected. Wearing camouflage, gunmen barged into two apartments on July 12 and murdered everyone they found there. No group has yet to claim responsibility for the savage attack. When police arrived belatedly on the scene, they found blood streaming down a stairwell where two bodies were lain. Other bodies were found lying on furniture and the floor, while the body of one woman was found in a kitchen cupboard where she had presumably sought refuge. She had been shot to death.

The attack occured in Zayouna, a mixed Sunni and Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad during the evening hours on July 12. Authorities assert that the attackers used silenced weapons to carry out the murders. Before they left, they scrawled 'This is the fate of any prostitution" on one of the doors. Read more ..

Kurdistan Rising

Kurds Seize Two Iraqi Oilfields and Pull Out of Unity Government

July 13th 2014

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

Armed Kurdish forces seized control of two state-run oilfields on Friday in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk as the Kurdish political bloc withdrew from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government, deepening the rift between the Kurds and the PM.

Baghdad’s national oil ministry has slammed the Kurdish takeover, as Arab workers were replaced with Kurdish employees at sites in Bai Hassan and Kirkuk, saying there would be serious repercussions if they didn’t immediately withdraw, reported Reuters.

“We appeal to rational Kurds about the need to understand the danger of such [an] attitude and to ask the people responsible for this disorderly behavior to withdraw immediately from these sites in order to avoid dire consequences,” a ministry spokesman said, as reported by France 24. Read more ..

Broken Government

Obama and Senate Clash over Response to Border Crisis

July 11th 2014

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A bipartisan 2008 bill intended to crack down on child trafficking has become a flashpoint in the debate over an emergency spending bill to address the immigration crisis in Texas.

President Obama has asked for $3.7 billion and increased authority to deal with 57,000 unaccompanied minors from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who have streamed across the border illegally. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson warned Thursday the number could reach 90,000 by the end of September.

Unlike illegal immigrants from Mexico, these minors are guaranteed a court date by the trafficking law. They are often released to relatives to wait out their pending appeal, a process that results in only 1,800 per year being deported to their countries of origin. Read more ..

The 2014 Campaign

Democrats Resort to Race-Baiting in Challenging Political Campaigns

July 10th 2014

Democrats are injecting race into the 2014 midterm elections amid fears that a drop-off in minority voters could severely cost them at the polls this fall.

Democratic leaders in Congress and administration officials have suggested GOP opposition to policies ranging from immigration reform to ObamaCare are, at least partly, motivated by race.

More broadly, they’ve suggested conservative Tea Party criticism of President Obama is based on the fact that he is black.
Democrats reject charges that the rhetoric is a concerted political calculation on their part as they try to retain their Senate majority and make gains in the House.

“You turn out voters by demonstrating your past performance and what you’re promising to do for a constituent in the future,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I don’t call that race-baiting. I call that a political platform.” Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Millions of Israeli Civlians Suffer under Barrages of Hamas Rockets

July 9th 2014

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For the first time a rocket has been fired from Gaza at the northern town of Hadera, which is situated 100 km (62 miles) away from the Gaza Strip. A short while before that a rocket fired from Gaza hit Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. A rock concert with some 6,000 participants was surprised by the attack, the concert was immediately stopped and all were dispersed.

Tel Aviv was also attacked by rockets, and within the three hours, the sirens sounded multiple times in Tel Aviv. As a result of the attack the US embassy in Tel Aviv has issued a warning to US citizens in Israel. The embassy will operate at minimal staffing until further notice. Chief of Mission personnel will not be allowed to travel south of Tel Aviv without prior approval.

Embassy families living in Tel Aviv are being advised to remain at home and in close contact with one another. “Recent events underscore the importance of situational awareness. We remind you to be aware of your surroundings at all times, to monitor the media, and to follow directions of emergency responders,” the notice stated.

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, about 160 rockets have been fired at Israel. 116 of them hit Israel and 29 were intercepted. During the previous day Gaza terrorists fired approximately 80 rockets at Israel.

Israel on Edge

Wall-To-Wall Israeli Condemnation for Murder of Jerusalem Arab Boy

July 7th 2014


Israelis from across the political spectrum expressed condemnation and disgust at the slaying of Muhammad Abu Khdeir from Shuafat, Jerusalem on July 2. Israeli security forces announced yesterday that they have arrested six Israelis in connection with the murder. The motive appears to be an act of revenge for the abduction and murder of the three Israeli teens last month.   

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch stated yesterday after the arrests were announced: "The Jerusalem District of the Israel Police and the Shabak have arrested several youths on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. I would like to thank all those involved in the work, who, since the event, have devoted maximum efforts to uncovering and arresting the perpetrators. The State of Israel is a country that abides by, and enforces, the law, and will continue to take determined action against all those who violate the law. I ask that everyone show responsibility and work to prevent further disturbances. This was a shocking and unacceptable act which any sane person, certainly in a strong and democratic country such as the State of Israel, must strongly condemn."


Broken Government

Latino Republican Congressman Calls for Deportations of Illegal Immigrant Surge

July 7th 2014

Central American immigrants ride train through Mexico.

The Obama administration should "immediately deport" the children and families amassing at the southern border, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) argued Sunday.

As the crisis has swelled in recent months, the administration has struggled to keep pace with the detention and processing systems used to determine which migrants will be deported and which might qualify to remain under asylum laws.
But Labrador, who was a part of the bipartisan group that failed to negotiate an immigration reform package last year, suggested the solution lies in an expedited process.

"The thing this administration needs to do is immediately deport these families, these children," Labrador said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. "I know it sounds harsh, I know it sounds difficult. But they're creating a crisis." Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Israeli Air Force Strikes More Rocket Sites in Gaza

July 6th 2014

Missiles on jet

On July 6, Israel carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. The early morning operation targeted sites where the Israeli army says Palestinian terrorists have launched rocket attacks into Israel.

Clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters have been ongoing for several days in East Jerusalem and other towns.

Tensions have been high since three Israeli teenagers were abducted from the West Bank in June and were later found shot to death and buried. Israel blames the militant group Hamas for the kidnappings and murders.

The Palestinian attorney general said an autopsy on an Arab teenager killed in a suspected revenge attack showed he was burned to death. The charred body of Mohammed Abu Khudair was found in a Jerusalem forest on July 2 about an hour after he was forced into a car by kidnappers. Israeli police arrested suspects on July 6 in connection with Khudair's killing. His father said the teen's body was burned beyond recognition and could only be identified by DNA. Read more ..

The Battle for Ukraine

Ukraine Takes Back Rebel-Held Territory

July 5th 2014

Ukraine--Berkut Riot Police Nov 2013

Ukrainian troops have overtaken the rebel stronghold of Slovyansk in the country's east in a nighttime offensive, and President Petro Poroshenko ordered the armed forces to raise the Ukrainian flag over the city.

Meanwhile, there still was no reply Saturday from Russia or separatist leaders in Ukraine to Poroshenko's request for a new round of talks.

Officials and witnesses said the pro-Russian separatists evacuated Slovyansk on July 5 after coming under mortar fire from government forces. They had controlled the city of 100,000 since sezing administrative and police buildings in early April. The government's retaking of the city marks a rare victory in Ukraine's struggle to quell the months-long rebellion. Read more ..

The Caliphate

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, 'Caliph' of Islamic State, Finally Appears in Video

July 5th 2014

Abu Bakir

A video posted online on Saturday purports to show the leader of the Islamic State extremist group that has overrun much of Syria and Iraq delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq, in what would be a rare — if not the first — public appearance by the shadowy militant.

The video was released on at least two websites known to be used by the group, but it was not possible to independently verify whether the person shown was indeed the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It bore the logo of al-Furqan, the group's media arm. Through brute force and guile, the Islamic State group has seized control of a vast swath of land straddling Syria and Iraq, and has declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in those territories. It proclaimed al-Baghdadi the leader of its state and demanded that all Muslims pledge allegiance to him.

"The mujahedeen have been rewarded victory by God after years of jihad, and they were able to achieve their aim and hurried to announce the caliphate and choose the Imam," he says in the video, referring to the leader. Read more ..

Broken Borders

Texas Military Bases Become Refugee Camps

July 4th 2014

US/Mex Border fence

Texas officials appealed to the Obama administration on Thursday to secure the U.S.-Mexico border once and for all as waves of illegal immigrant children overwhelm the system, with one lawmaker saying U.S. military bases effectively have been transformed into camps to handle the influx. 

"Our military bases are turning into refugee camps. I never thought I'd see this in the United States of America," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said. 

McCaul spoke at a field hearing he convened in McAllen, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley which has seen the brunt of the migrant surge. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has deployed state resources in a bid to boost border security, and other state officials testified at the hearing. 

"Secure this border, Mr. President," Perry urged in his opening remarks.  Read more ..

The Battle for Iraq

Iraqi Parliament Fails to Elect New PM

July 3rd 2014

Nouri al-Maliki

Sunnis and Kurds staged a walkout of Iraq's first parliamentary meeting on Tuesday after Shiites could not name a prime minister to replace Nuri al-Maliki. The move diminishes Iraq's chances of establishing a unity government. Al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated State of Law Coalition declined to make any meaningful compromises during Iraq's first parliamentary gathering since elections earlier this spring. About 255 out of the 328 Parliamentarians joined the meeting, however 90 of them failed to return after a 30-minute morning recess. According to Iraq's constitution, lawmakers must now select a new prime minister within 75 days. With no party holding a majority of the seats in parliament, Iraq's diverse political parties must unite to elect the country's new leader. As the politicians squabbled, armed extremists continue to consolidate their grip over western Iraq. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) urged his militants to increase their attacks during the month of Ramadan, which began Sunday, and declared himself "the caliph" and "leader for Muslims everywhere." An estimated 2,417 Iraqis, including 1,531 civilians, were killed in June. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Israel Strikes 34 Targets in Gaza Strip

July 1st 2014

IAF Fighter

Israel struck 34 targets in Gaza Monday night in response to the discovery of three murdered teens near Gush Etzion.

The Israeli military says Hamas bears clear responsibility for the kidnappings and the rocket fire that has plagued southern Israel over the last few days.

The three boys, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were discovered 12 miles from the area where they were initially kidnapped 18 days ago, in an open field near the Arab village of Halhul. According to news reports, it seems that the boys were shot soon after they were kidnapped.

The IDF suspects two Hamas terrorists are behind the kidnapping and murder, but so far the two known operatives have evaded capture. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Abducted Israeli Teenagers are Found Dead

June 30th 2014

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Israeli security forces has found the bodies of three teenaged Jewish students who had been abducted by Palestinian terrorists over two weeks ago. They were found in a field northwest of Hebron in the Beit Kahil region of Israel. Israeli police and military units had been searching for Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah for the last 18 days.

The June 30 discovery came after Israel's Security Agency, known as Shin Bet, had been focusing its efforts on the area over the past two days during searches for the three teens. A large number of police officers and security forces had gathered at the Halhul junction north of Hebron, near the area where the three were said to have been abducted. The area was declared a closed military perimeter. Israeli citizens had rallied over the abductions, demanding their release by the terrorists. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Supreme Court to Rule on Obamacare Birth-Control Mandate

June 30th 2014

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The boundaries of religious freedom hang in the balance as the Supreme Court prepares to close out its term with a decision on the Affordable Care Act’s “birth control mandate.”

Monday's ruling, the most closely watched of the season, decides round two for ObamaCare at the high court, and will be the second time that the justices will close their term with a ruling on President Obama's signature law.

The stakes are high. A ruling against the administration could undermine the statute’s provision requiring companies to offer contraceptive services to workers as part of their insurance coverage. It would peel away a significant portion of the mandate, potentially affecting preventive health coverage for millions of women, the government and backers of the law say. Perhaps even more important, they contend, are the ramifications of a finding that corporations could be exempt from federal statutes on grounds that they have religious objections. Read more ..

Nigeria on Edge

Islamist Rebels Strike in Nigeria and Kill Christians at Church

June 30th 2014

An assault by Islamist Boko Haram marauders is feared to have claimed the lives of at least 100 persons in northeastern Nigeria. The June 29 raid occured near Chibok, a village in the same area from where the group kidnapped more than 200 girls in April. Initial reports from the attack yesterday also speak of five churches and several houses burned.

The Islamists' main target was the village of Kwada, where they opened fire and tossed handgrenades at worshippers leaving the churches. A similar fate awaited the villagers of Kautikari, located eight kilometers from Chibok. Read more ..

Obama's Second Term

Obama is Worried about Terrorism

June 29th 2014

President Obama said that the U.S. has been seriously threatened by terrorists for his entire time in office and even since before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“They’re gaining strength in some places,” Obama said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Obama added that his administration is trying to boost its response to terrorists trained in Iraq and Syria who, because of European passports, would have little trouble getting to the U.S.

“We’re spending a lot of time, and we have been for years, making sure that we are improving intelligence so that we can respond to that,” Obama said. “There are going to be times where we take strikes against organizations that could do us harm.” Read more ..

The Edge of Soccer Craze

Loud, Loyal American Fans Travel to Brazil in Huge Numbers

June 28th 2014

Injured female soccer player

The World Cup, international soccer's marquee event, attracts the most passionate and loyal fans in the world. Supporters from the United States, a country with a small but rising fan base, are out to prove that they are just as enthusiastic as any other country.

Rio de Janeiro has hosted four World Cup games so far, three of which included South American teams. The city has, at times, been dominated by Argentines, Chileans, and Ecuadoreans. But the strongest constant international presence here in Rio has been the Americans.

 "Oh man, U.S. fan support here has been IN-credible.  At the Fan Fest, every single game, we're representing more than the teams we're playing. There's so much U.S.A. pride, cheers every two seconds, and when we score? Oh man. It's like the biggest party in the U.S.A.," said Samantha Medney, one of thousands of U.S. supporters in Brazil. Read more ..

Broken Borders

Obama Goes Around Congress on Immigration

June 27th 2014

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The Obama administration is "not bluffing" in its intent to take executive action on immigration policy if House Republicans don't act soon, top Democratic leaders warned Thursday.

President Obama has delayed any potential changes to his deportation policy to allow House GOP leaders time to bring legislation to the floor this summer. But if the Republicans don't act in July, the Democrats say, unilateral changes by Obama are inevitable.

"We're at the end of the line," Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol. "We're not bluffing by setting a legislative deadline for them to act.

"Their first job is to govern," Menendez added, "and in the absence of governing, then you see executive actions."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) piled on. Noting that a year has passed since the Senate passed a sweeping immigration reform bill with broad bipartisan support, he urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring a similar bill to the floor. Read more ..

The Battle for Baghdad

As Tensions Rise, Secretary Kerry Tells Syria and Iran to Back Off Iraq

June 26th 2014

Iranian drone and pilot

Secretary of State John Kerry is continuing his focus on the crisis in Iraq as he meets on June 26 in Paris with his counterparts from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The State Department says the talks will include both the security situation in Iraq and the civil war in neighboring Syria.

U.S. officials have been urging Iraq to install a government that is inclusive of Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish minorities, as the country deals with a surge by Sunni Islamist militants. However, Kerry told reporters on June 25that the U.S. is not interfering with the political process in Baghdad.

"It's up to Iraqis to make those decisions. We have stated clearly that we have an interest in a government that can unite Iraqis," said Kerry. Read more ..

The Battle for Iraq

Iraqi PM Rejects Forming 'Salvation' Government

Iraq ISIL pistol standoff

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has rejected forming an emergency government to help the country counter a surge by Sunni Islamist militants.

In a televised address, Maliki said he considered a "national salvation government," intended to present a unified front among Iraq's three main groups, a "coup against the constitution" and going against Iraq's April 30 parliament election results.

Iraqi leaders said they will meet a July 1 deadline for beginning to form the post-election government. U.S. officials believe the leadership in Baghdad should seek to draw Sunni support away from the militants from the al-Qaida breakaway group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL militants have seized areas across northern and western Iraq. Read more ..

The Battle for Iraq

Militant Advance in Iraq Blow to Families of Fallen US Troops

June 25th 2014

ISIS terrorist in Iraq

The rapid advance of Islamist militants through key cities in Iraq is forcing many Americans to re-examine the eight-year-long war that killed nearly 4,500 U.S. service members.  The loss of lives is on the minds of many who took part in the 2014 Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run.

This is more than just a motorcycle to Kory Thompson.  It is a moving tribute to his son, Army Corporal Michael Thompson, who died in a helicopter crash near Talil Air Base in Iraq in 2008.

“Their call sign was Red River 44. When Red River 44 banked to go into Talil, they lost altitude, and the guys from the other helicopter say it look like they flew right into the ground,” he said. It was Thompson’s second time in Iraq, a mission his father said he enthusiastically volunteered for, based on his experience during his first deployment. Read more ..

The Battle for Iraq

'Intense' and 'Sustained' U.S. Military Help Coming to Iraq

June 24th 2014

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The United States is pledging “intense" and "sustained” support for Iraq as it battles Sunni militants. And now a major component of that help - teams of military advisers - can move into action thanks to an agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments granting legal protections to U.S. forces. But there are growing concerns about how much that support can do amid signs the Iraqi military is withering under pressure.

It has become a familiar scene in Iraq - militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - ISIL (also known as ISIS) - celebrating another victory.

Those fleeing tell stories of horror.

"I wish I had camera with me to film what happened with us, so that you could see it with your own eyes," said Ali Shebban, an internally displaced Iraqi citizen. "Clashes all around. Children, women, old men all running." Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Legalists to UN Head Moon: "Retract all Acceptance of PA to the UN"

June 24th 2014


The Legal Forum for Israel, a body representing hundreds of lawyers and jurists from various countries, has sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon last week demanding that he retract all acceptance within the UN of the Palestinian Authority and  reject the Palestinian request to accede to international conventions.

Relating to the abduction of the three boys form Gush Etzion, author of the letter Alan Baker, former legal adviser of Israel’s foreign ministry, former ambassador to Canada and Director of the International Action Division of the Legal Forum for Israel, writes: "We are, first and foremost, at the time of writing this letter, most distressed at the tragic situation in which one or more Palestinian terror groups, affiliated to what you and the UN regard as the “State of Palestine”, considered to be a non-member state observer in the UN, have taken three Israeli youths hostage, in clear violation of all basic humanitarian norms and conventions. Read more ..

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