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Monday, 25 August 2014

Russian lawmaker: Kiev parade shows aggressive plans to escalate crisis

Ukraine celebrated the 23rd anniversary of country's independence on Sunday

© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin

Independence Day parade in Kiev

© Unknown

Ukraine ‘to spend billions of hryvnas’ to upgrade its military hardware - president

The speaker of Russia's parliament lower house

State Duma Sergei Naryshkin believes that a parade held in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, on the occasion of Independence Day of the country was a manifestation of aggressive plans to escalate the crisis.

"Yesterday a military parade was held in Kiev, where military units carrying out a punitive operation in the country's east already for several months also participated," Sergei Naryshkin told reporters on Monday. "

I do not know what prompted them to take this decision

, but instead of appeals to dialogue, instead of a mourning ceremony for all victims of a bloody conflict they showed their aggressive plans to escalate the crisis," the lower house speaker said.

"Nationalism, National Socialism is showed clearer in Kiev officials' words and action, as the latter continue with

maniacal insistence

attempts to disunite Russian and Ukrainian peoples who have common origin, history and culture."

"I doubt that ideologues of such policy realise fully all possible after-effects. Meanwhile, this is clear, as these people are frequently citizens of other countries," the lawmaker added.

Ukraine celebrated the 23rd anniversary of country's independence on Sunday. On this occasion a parade of military hardware and military personnel was staged in central Kiev.

Westminster bullying: UK to withdraw independent Scotland's right to use English language

© www.pprune.org

The government has this week threatened to withdraw an independent Scotland's right to use the English language. The announcement is the clearest sign yet that, in the event of a pro-independence vote, the remainder of the UK could hesitate to allow a 'linguistic union' with the new Scottish nation.

Insiders at the anti-independence Better Together campaign are reportedly confident of the gambit's strategic effectiveness. One consultant pointed out to our reporter, even in the event of a vote for independence, the withdrawal of English would leave Scottish delegates at a 'very significant' disadvantage in subsequent negotiations over the actual terms of the separation.

The announcement has proved controversial, with many pro-independence figures accusing the government of 'bullying' Scottish voters. Many have opined that, in the event of a Yes vote, the UK government would be forced to concede when faced with the prospect of losing such icons as Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi. The Yes campaign has, nonetheless, come under pressure for its repeated failure to offer a 'Plan B' on which language to use post-independence, as early suggestions of Flemish or Latin have been quickly quashed by Belgian and Vatican City authorities.

Another area of debate has concerned those countries around the world which already use English as an official language. Supporters of Scottish independence have been quick to foreground the United States and Canada, which are both long-standing members of this category. Unionist representatives, however, have struck back against this argument, asserting that these experiments in linguistic overlap have been 'unsuccessful at best'.

Lugansk, Ukraine: Thank you Russia! Please come back soon (with more humanitarian aid)!

© © RIA Novosti/Maksim Blinov

A wonderful sight for sore eyes; the first group of trucks, that have delivered humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine, return to Russia

Residents of Luhansk People's Republic hope to receive more

humanitarian aid

from Russia, Vice Prime Minister of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Luhansk Vasyl Nikitin told RIA Novosti.

"Our republic has almost no food provisions left," Nikitin said. "We hope such food and humanitarian convoys will become common. We hope for help and wait for it."

According to Nikitin, situation with food provision in Luhansk People's Republic is dire. Despite the harvest season, the food market was closed due to shell attacks and the ensuing fire.

The residents of the city are surviving on their own stocks.

Earlier today, Nikitin


the distribution of Russian humanitarian aid would start Saturday.

The first group of trucks, that delivered Russian humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine, have returned to Russian territory on Saturday. Now they are heading to the city of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, Rostov Region, where the Russian humanitarian convoy was parked several days before its departure for Ukraine's eastern conflict zones

Russian customs

officers are inspecting the

second group of Russian trucks


On August 14, the trucks with Russian humanitarian aid arrived at the border, but Ukraine began customs clearance only on August 21.

On Friday, Moscow


Kiev of deliberately delaying the aid delivery. The same day, Russian convoy crossed the border and arrived in besieged Luhansk that was

struggling daily without regular food supplies, water and electricity


The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry described the convoy crossing the Russian border as a violation of international norms.



that Russia received a formal agreement from Kiev authorities for the passage of the humanitarian convoy through the Ukrainian border on August 12.

Collective punishment for accepting Russian food and medical supplies? Kiev massacres hundreds in Lugansk, city being razed to the ground

© AP Photo/ Petro Zadorozhnyy

Tour of destruction: Ukrainian military in the city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine

Hundreds have died in artillery attacks on eastern Ukraine's key city of


as government troops continue to lay siege to the militia stronghold, according to a senior official of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic.

"As of today, the

death toll has climbed into the hundreds


Hundreds of homes have been torn down

, including more than a dozen of apartment blocks and hundreds of private houses," LPR Deputy Prime Minister Vasily Nikitin told RIA Novosti Saturday.

Luhansk has been left without running water, electricity and phone communications for 20 days as government troops continue to besiege it, pounding indiscriminately militia positions and residential quarters in and around the city. All deliveries of food, medication and fuel had long been stopped due to heavy shelling.

In a recent incident, a mortar round launched by

government forces hit a water distribution facility

in the inner city instantly killing fifteen people who had come to replenish their supplies, local authorities told RIA Novosti.

City morgues are filled with shelling victims

, and the staff find it hard to remove all bodies from the streets leaving some of them exposed to elements for days.

Four months of fighting in Ukraine's easternmost Luhansk region has left more than 2,000 people dead and 5,000 wounded, with hundreds of thousands fleeing their homes, according to UN reports. More than a half of the refugees have been


over into Russia.

On Friday, a humanitarian aid convoy from Russia rolled into eastern Ukraine after being checked by Ukrainian customs officials. A total of 280 trucks delivered grain, baby food, water, medicine and generators to the war-torn region, including Luhansk.

Casualties of seafloor methane gas release? Hundreds of thousands more fish found dead in Plymouth tidal pool, UK

Walkers found 'hundreds of thousands' of dead whitebait in the tidal pool at Devil's Point

Bebused walkers found "hundreds of thousands" of whitebait fish trapped in a tidal pool near Devil's Point yesterday.

It is the second time a shoal has been trapped in the same pool in less than two weeks.

Peter Wilkes and his fiance Carla Hosking were out enjoying a Sunday morning stroll with their 20-month-old son James when they thought they saw the pool at Firestone Bay looking as if it had "iced over".

On closer inspection, they found that it was the reflection of thousands of dead small dead fish which had become trapped in the shallow water.

"We saw the pond and it looked almost iced-over," said train-station worker Mr Wilkes.

"A lot of people were taking photos and we went down to take a closer look.

"There were little girls trying to push the fish back into the tidal pool to keep them alive.

"There were hundreds of thousands of whitebait. I would say about 90 per cent of them were dead.

"Some were still flapping about on the concrete or swimming about over the dead ones lying at the bottom of the pool.

"I don't think the others will survive very long.

"A lot of people were saying the fish might have run out of oxygen. "We did notice there was a froth around a lot of the fish

. I don't know if that came off their scales."

Dead whitebait caught in the tidal pool at Devil's Point

Guy Baker, communications officer for the Marine Biological Association, said sand eels had been known to be caught in the tidal pool.

He said this was the season for mackerel to be hunting small fish and could have chased them into the shallow waters.

Spring tides are also bigger at this time of year, so the fish may have simply been caught out when the tide was going out, explained Mr Baker.

Mr Wilkes, 29, said there was a dead mackerel amongst the fish adding credence to the theory that they were fleeing predators.

Miss Hosking, 24,

said the sight was "strange"

and attracted many people congregated outside the nearby Devil's Point Cafe to go down and see it for themselves.

It looked like the fish would not go to waste, however.

"There was one dog eating the fish and People were talking about getting local fisherman to come down and collect the fish for bait," added Mr Wilkes.

Discontent spreading: Cornel West blasts Obama as being a "brown-faced Clinton"

Cornel West

© Unknown

"We ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist", says Cornel West about Obama

Outspoken Union Theological Seminary professor Cornel West goes where very few 'thinkers-of-color' have had the courage to go in this interview with Salon's Thomas Frank:

"The thing is, [Obama] posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free... we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist... So you got low-quality black leadership. Al Sharpton is who? He's a cheerleader for Obama... Eric Holder won't touch the Wall Street executives; they're his friends... I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression." Excerpted from Salon, ...how do you feel things have worked out since then, both with the economy and with this president? That was a huge turning point, that moment in 2008, and my own feeling is that we didn't turn. No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free.

The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he's just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that's a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are - we're an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life.

You would think that we needed somebody - a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility. And we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist.

It's like, "Oh, no, don't tell me that!" I tell you this, because I got hit hard years ago, but everywhere I go now, it's "Brother West, I see what you were saying. Brother West, you were right. Your language was harsh and it was difficult to take, but you turned out to be absolutely right." And, of course with Ferguson, you get it reconfirmed even among the people within his own circle now, you see. It's a sad thing. It's like you're looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin.


There's a lot of disillusionment now. My liberal friends included. The phrase that I have heard from more than one person in the last year is they feel like they got played. That's true. That's exactly right. What I hear is that, "He pimped us." I heard that a zillion times. "He pimped us, brother West." That's another way of saying "we got played."


I think Obama, his modus operandi going all the way back to when he was head of the [Harvard] Law Review, first editor of the Law Review and didn't have a piece in the Law Review.

He was chosen because he always occupied the middle ground. He doesn't realize that a great leader, a statesperson, doesn't just occupy middle ground.

They occupy higher ground or the moral ground or even sometimes the holy ground. But the middle ground is not the place to go if you're going to show courage and vision. And I think that's his modus operandi. He always moves to the middle ground. It turned out that historically, this was not a moment for a middle-ground politician. We needed a high-ground statesperson and it's clear now he's not the one.

And so what did he do? Every time you're headed toward middle ground what do you do?

You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you're not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they're real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn't mean anything. The rule of law, oh my God. There's one law for us and another law if you work on Wall Street.

That's exactly right. Even with [Attorney General] Eric Holder.

Eric Holder won't touch the Wall Street executives; they're his friends. He might charge them some money. They want to celebrate. This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There's no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all.

The same is true with the Robert Rubin crowd. Obama comes in, he's got all this populist rhetoric which is wonderful, progressive populist rhetoric which we needed badly. What does he do, goes straight to the Robert Rubin crowd and here comes Larry Summers, here comes Tim Geithner, we can go on and on and on, and he allows them to run things. You see it in the Suskind book, The Confidence Men.

These guys are running things, and these are neoliberal, deregulating free marketeers - and poverty is not even an afterthought for them. They're the same ones who screwed it up before. Absolutely.


Let's talk about Ferguson. All I know about it is what I've been reading in the newspapers; I haven't been out there. But I feel like there's a lot more going on there than this one tragic killing. Oh, absolutely. I mean, one, we know that this is a systemic thing. This thing has been going on - we can hardly get a word out of the administration in terms of the arbitrary police power.


The Obama administration has been silent. Completely silent.

All of a sudden now, you get this uprising and what is the response? Well, as we know, you send out a statement on the death of brother Robin Williams before you sent out a statement on brother Michael Brown. The family asked for an autopsy at the Federal level, they hold back, so they [the family] have to go and get their own autopsy, and then the federal government finally responds. [Obama] sends Eric, Eric's on the way out.

Eric Holder's going to be gone by December.


Because what happens is you got Eric Holder going in trying to create the calm.

But you also got Al Sharpton. And when you say the name Al Sharpton, the word integrity does not come to mind. So you got low-quality black leadership. Al Sharpton is who? He's a cheerleader for Obama.


There's no prophetic integrity in his leadership. One last thing, where are we going from here? What comes next? I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression. Because the levels of disillusionment are so deep.

Thank God for the new wave of young and prophetic leadership, as with Rev. William Barber, Philip Agnew, and others. But look who's around the presidential corner. Oh my God, here comes another neo-liberal opportunist par excellence. Hillary herself is coming around the corner. It's much worse. And you say, "My God, we are an empire in decline." A culture in decay with a political system that's dysfunctional, youth who are yearning for something better but our system doesn't provide them democratic venues, and so all we have are just voices in the wilderness and certain truth-tellers just trying to keep alive some memories of when we had some serious, serious movements and leaders.

One last thought, I was talking to a friend recently and we were saying, if things go the way they look like they're going to go and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and then wins a second term, the next time there'll be a chance for a liberal, progressive president is 2024.

It'd be about over then, brother. I think at that point -

Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama's Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She'd be more hawkish than he is, and yet she's got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans

. But at that point it's even too hard to contemplate.

I know, I always like to leave things on a pessimistic note. I'm sorry. It's just my nature. It's not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren't pessimistic. We're prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That's different. Read more here...

USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 6.0 - 6km NW of American Canyon, California

Earthquake 6.0 in N CA, USA


Event Time

2014-08-24 10:20:44 UTC

2014-08-24 03:20:44 UTC-07:00 at epicenter


38.220°N 122.313°W depth=11.3km (7.0mi)

Nearby Cities

6km (4mi) NW of American Canyon, California

8km (5mi) SSW of Napa, California

13km (8mi) NNW of Vallejo, California

14km (9mi) ESE of Sonoma, California

81km (50mi) WSW of Sacramento, California

Scientific data

USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 6.9 - 43km ENE of Tambo, Peru

Earthquake 6.9 tampo in Peru


Event Time

2014-08-24 23:21:45 UTC

2014-08-24 18:21:45 UTC-05:00 at epicenter


14.586°S 73.578°W depth=101.0km (62.8mi)

Nearby Cities

43km (27mi) ENE of Tambo, Peru

61km (38mi) ENE of Puquio, Peru

105km (65mi) S of Andahuaylas, Peru

129km (80mi) SW of Abancay, Peru

467km (290mi) SE of Lima, Peru

Scientific data

Snake sightings on the rise in New Mexico this year, including more venomous Mojave rattler

© Erik Enderson

Mojave rattlesnake

The Mojave rattler, one of the most lethal rattlesnakes in the Southwest, has been gradually moving into new territory in Southeastern New Mexico.

The snake is a type of pit viper that has recently migrated from California and Arizona and appears physically similar to the area's native Western diamondback rattlesnake and black-tail rattlesnake. Mistaking the Mojave rattler for the other rattlesnakes could mean the difference between life and death according to some experts.

The Mojave rattler's fangs are infused with a neurotoxin that is much more potent than its diamondback counterpart, leading the New Mexico Game and Fish Department to dub it the "most dangerous of the state's rattlers." The snake has a reputation for being quick to strike and has venom nearly as toxic as a cobra according to a Game and Fish Department fact sheet on New Mexico rattlesnakes.

Rick Johnson, a Carlsbad resident, was surprised to have seen two dead baby Mojave rattlers since last week.

Johnson's mom found and killed a 10-inch-long snake after she found it on the porch of her La Huerta residence on Monday, and Johnson also saw another baby Mojave rattlesnake after it was killed last weekend by workers at the Riverwalk Recreation Center.

"I didn't even know they existed until my mom told me about it," he said.

Tony Hutchins, a snake whisperer in Carlsbad, said he first noticed the non-native Mojave rattler in and around the city about five years ago.

Hutchins described the snake's venom as a "whole cocktail" and warned that if bitten, the nearest hospital should be alerted as the victim is en route because doctors must use different anti-venom for Mojave rattler bites than for other rattlesnakes.

Carlsbad Medical Center averages three to five snake bites per year and has treated five patients for snake bite wounds this year according to Nicole Chavez, the hospital's emergency room director. Doctors routinely practice for the scenario, especially since the number of snakes in the city has been on the rise.

While the Eddy County Sheriff's Department Animal Control unit did not have available data on the number of calls to capture snakes, Captain Arcenio Jones said there has been "a clear rise in snakes in peoples' yards" this year. Jones said snake sightings usually spike around this time of the year because the reptiles are readying for hibernation.

Hutchins, who runs a free snake trapping and recovery business, said he has also noticed an increase in the total amount of snakes in Carlsbad this year, including the Mojave rattlers. Hutchins said he has captured around 30 snakes in the first eight months of 2014, including seven inside the city limits of Carlsbad. Last year, he captured 15 to 20 snakes in the area.

Mojave rattlesnakes are smaller than Western diamondbacks, have a distinctively outlined diamond pattern on their back, and display prominent light and dark diagonal stripes on the sides of their head according to the Game and Fish Department.

The easiest way to distinguish the three snake species is by looking at their tail according to former desert biologist John Waters.

"A black-tail rattlesnake has a tail tipped with all black," Waters explained. "On the Western diamondback, white and black banding on the tip of the tail is usually equal in width or sometimes slightly thicker with the black bands, while the Mojave rattler has banding with much thicker white bands than black ones on the end of the tail.

As war rages in Gaza, West Bank routine of violence and arrests unabated

Palestinians complaining to Israeli soldiers

© AP

Palestinians complaining to Israeli soldiers during clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers, seen in the back, in the West Bank.

Arrests, expulsions, home demolitions, land seizure and settlers harassing Palestinians continues: Since the beginning of the fighting in the south on July 8, soldiers and police have injured 2,139 Palestinians in the West Bank.

Last Wednesday, about an hour and a half after midnight, a group of armed men in uniforms burst into the home in the West Bank city of Ramallah of Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. One of the group tried to hand her a document written in Hebrew. She refused to accept the piece of paper. A female soldier, she recounted, read her what was written on the paper. A policeman translated it into Arabic.

Jarrar didn't pay attention to all the details, but rather to the basics: The Israel Defense Forces was expelling her to the West Bank city of Jericho, and she was to leave within 24 hours. She refused to sign the document. It's still at her house.

Under the signature of the IDF commander in the West Bank, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, the order is dated August 15 and entitled: "Order with Regard to Security Directives (Consolidated Version), Judea and Samaria (No. 1651) 5770 2009." And below it there is another caption: "Special Supervisory Order."

The text of the order read as follows: "Following the accumulation of high-quality and credible intelligence material with regard to Khalida Kana'an Muhammed Jarrar (hereinafter 'the subject'), and after I have been convinced that serious security considerations required this and that the matter was necessary and required for decisive security reasons to maintain security in the region, I hereby order that the subject be placed under special supervision. As long as this order remains in effect, the subject shall not leave the Jericho district other than with a permit from me or someone authorized by me. This order will go into effect when signed and remain in effect until February 29, 2015 at 11:59 P.M."

Jarrar stated that she would not obey the expulsion order.

Compared to the killing and destruction that this same army is carrying out in Gaza, the issuance of an expulsion order to a political activist is a trifling matter. The violence involved in Jarrar's case is more bureaucratic, less physical (not counting the invasion of a private home). That's also true when compared to the routine, day-to-day violence that the defense forces employ against Palestinian citizens of the West Bank. Since this violence is such a routine and daily occurrence, it is so taken for granted that even no German Chancellor Angela Merkel and no United States President Barack Obama bother to issue any kind of declaration that the Palestinian people have the right to self-defense.

This past Friday, as on every Friday, IDF soldiers attempted to suppress West Bank demonstrations against the theft of their lands and the mass killing in Gaza. One young man in Kafr Qaddum was injured when he was hit in the head by a gas canister. In the other villages - according to reports - demonstrators choked on teargas. Between August 12 and 18, IDF troops injured 139 Palestinians at demonstrations in the West Bank. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 37 of them, or 27 percent, were wounded by live fire. The others were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets or teargas.

Since the beginning of the fighting in the south on July 8, soldiers and police have injured 2,139 Palestinians in the West Bank. Since the beginning of this year, IDF troops have injured a total of 3,995 Palestinians in this part of the occupied territory. In all of last year, soldiers injured 3,736 Palestinians. Since July 8, IDF soldiers have killed two children in the West Bank and 15 adults, mostly at demonstrations in support of Gaza. A trifling matter.

The expulsion order may not be routine, but army raids into homes are. Boy are they. Children awake in panic in their homes from pounding on the door, rifles drawn and soldiers who are either masked or have black face paint. Between August 12 and 18, a total of 91 such raids were carried out in various villages and neighborhoods. That's an average of 13 per night, and according to the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, last week IDF soldiers and police arrested 111 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including 20 in Jerusalem. From the beginning of August, the IDF and police have arrested 477 Palestinians in the West Bank.

And that's without even considering home demolitions, the seizure of land and harassment by Israeli settlers. OCHA is reporting six cases of harassment of Palestinians by settlers, including the use of live fire in a Palestinian village, vandalism, stone throwing and barring access to land. Israelis have also taken control of Palestinian land in two villages. Soon probably a boutique vineyard or dairy producing gourmet organic goats' milk will be built there.

True, Palestinians throw stones and fire bombs at settlers' cars. We've heard about searches and arrests at a village from which a fire bomb was thrown that injured a settler. We have not, however, heard about arrests of settlers who fired shots at the Palestinian village of Burin. We have heard about a curfew imposed on the village of Hawara over a Palestinian fire bomb thrown at a settler.

Last Tuesday, Abu Fakher, who is from the small ancient village of Khirbet A-Twayel southeast of Nablus, called and recounted how bulldozers from the IDF Civil Administration had demolished two ancient stone houses. It can be inferred that the authorities don't really like the fact that the owners of the homes had renovated structures that testify to the deep roots of the Palestinian presence in the area. I apologized to Abu Fakher that events in Gaza prevented me from delving into the matter, and he understood.

There are a very large number of Israelis who carry out these trifling matters, including the visible ones (soldiers and police) and the invisible ones. Think of all of the unemployed people we would have if not for the occupation: the lawyers who provide legal cover, the drafters of documents and maps, the proofreaders and those who type the military orders, and the ones whose job it is to make sure there is enough ink and paper in the fax machines and printers. Then there are the commanders, bureau heads, Shin Bet security people, drivers, inspectors and Civil Administration committee members.

And think about the fathers, and the wives and children who wait for these un-unemployed at home for Friday night dinner.

The difference between children

Palestinian mourners cry


Palestinian mourners cry at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital after an explosion killed at least seven children in a public playground in the beachfront Shati refugee camp on July 28, 2014.

It is human that the killing of an Israeli boy, a child of ours, would arouse greater identification than the death of some other child. What is incomprehensible is the Israeli response to the killing of their children.

After the first child, nobody batted an eye; after the 50th not even a slight tremor was felt in a plane's wing; after the 100th, they stopped counting; after the 200th, they blamed Hamas. After the 300th child they blamed the parents. After the 400th child, they invented excuses; after (the first) 478 children nobody cares.

Then came our first child and Israel went into shock. And indeed, the heart weeps at the picture of 4-year-old Daniel Tragerman, killed Friday evening in his home in Sha'ar Hanegev. A beautiful child, who once had his picture taken in an Argentinean soccer team shirt, blue and white, number 10. And whose heart would not be broken at the sight of this photo, and who would not weep at how he was criminally killed. "Hey Leo Messi, look at that boy," a Facebook post read, "you were his hero."

Suddenly death has a face and dreamy blue eyes and light hair. A tiny body that will never grow. Suddenly the death of a little boy has meaning, suddenly it is shocking. It is human, understandable and moving. It is also human that the killing of an Israeli boy, a child of ours, would arouse greater identification than the death of some other child. What is incomprehensible is the Israeli response to the killing of their children.

In a world where there is some good, children would be left out of the cruel game called war. In a world where there is some good, it would be impossible to understand the total, almost monstrous unfeelingness in the face of the killing of hundreds of children - not ours, but by us. Imagine them standing in a row: 478 children, in a graduating class of death. Imagine them wearing Messi shirts - some of those children wore them once too, before they died; they also admired him, just like our Daniel from a kibbutz. But nobody looks at them; their faces are not seen, no one is shocked at their deaths. No one writes about them: "Hey Messi, look at that boy." Hey, Israel, look at their children.

An iron wall of denial and inhumanness protects the Israelis from the shameful work of their hands in Gaza. And indeed, these numbers are hard to digest. Of the hundreds of men killed one could say that they were "involved"; of the hundreds of women that they were "human shields." As for a small number of children, one could claim that the most moral army in the world did not intend it. But what shall we say about almost 500 children killed? That the Israel Defense Forces did not intend it, 478 times? That Hamas hid behind all of them? That this legitimized killing them?

Hamas might have hidden behind some of those children but now Israel is hiding behind Daniel Tragerman. His fate is already being used to cover all of the sins of the IDF in Gaza.

The radio yesterday already talked about "murder." The prime minister already called the killing "terror," while hundreds of Gaza's children in their new graves are not victims of murder or terror. Israel had to kill them. And after all, who are Fadi and Ali and Islaam and Razek, Mahmoud, Ahmed and Hamoudi - in the face of our one and only Daniel.

We must admit the truth: Palestinian children in Israel are considered like insects. This is a horrific statement, but there is no other way to describe the mood in Israel in the summer of 2014. When for six weeks hundreds of children are destroyed; their bodies buried in rubble, piling up on morgues, sometimes even in vegetable refrigeration rooms for lack of other space; when their horrified parents carry the bodies of their toddlers as a matter of course; their funerals coming and going, 478 times - even the most unfeeling of Israelis would not allow themselves to be so uncaring.

Something here has to rise up and scream: Enough. All the excuses and all the explanations will not help - there is no such thing as a child that is allowed to be killed and a child that is not. There are only children killed for nothing, hundreds of children whose fate touches no one in Israel, and one child, just one, around whose death the people unite in mourning.

Congo declares an Ebola outbreak, exposing WHO cover-up

© AP

Last week,

when we reported

on the latest breakout of a mysterious Ebola-like disease, which had claimed at least 70 people's live at last check, we were skeptical by the WHO's attempts to mask the fact that an Ebola outbreak is something else entirely, in a desperate attempt to avoid the panic that would inevitably result from the confirmation that the Ebola virus has officially made its way into the fifth country, this time the second largest African nation by surface area, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As Reuters reported at the time, citing a WHO spokesman who had sent an email to the news agency, "this is not Ebola" to which we mused: "perhaps the WHO is fibbing just a bit to prevent another all out panic. If not Ebola then what? According to WHO, the deaths are the result of an outbreak of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, a disease prevalent in... dogs?

We concluded: "So is the WHO simply trying to prevent the spread of panic and deny that Ebola has now spread to the second largest country in Africa? We will surely find out soon enough, especially if the WHO, too, advises the population "to keep calm and BTFD"..."

Three days later we have the answer and sure enough, as we suspected the WHO was indeed lying.

Reuters confirms


Democratic Republic of Congo declared an Ebola outbreak in its northern Equateur province on Sunday after two out of eight cases tested came back positive for the deadly virus, Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said. A mysterious disease has killed dozens of people in Equateur in recent weeks but the World Health Organization had said on Thursday it was not Ebola.

"I declare an Ebola epidemic in the region of Djera, in the territory of Boende in the province of Equateur," Kabange Numbi told a news conference.

The region lies about 1,200 km (750 miles) north of the capital Kinshasa.

Numbi said that one of the two cases that tested positive was for the Sudanese strain of the disease, while the other was a mixture between the Sudanese and the Zaire strain -- the most lethal variety. The outbreak in West Africa that has killed at least 1,427 people in West Africa since March is the Zaire strain.

The World Health Organization said on Thursday that the disease which had killed at least 70 people in Equateur was a kind of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

Sadly, this simply means that the WHO is just the latest global organization willing to sacrifice its credibility in order to avoid the spread of social panic, even though the truth always emerges in the end, and when society realizes it can't even trust those mandated with telling the truth, the end panic is orders of magnitude worse.

One wonders: if the WHO was lying about this what other critical development is the organization fabricating and/or covering up?

And in a gruesome and very ironic twist,

CNN reports

that it was the very same World Health Organization, whose worker has fallen ill from Ebola for the very first time. The health worker is in Sierra Leone and receiving care, the WHO said, but provided no further details.

That's not all: separately, a British citizen infected with the virus in Sierra Leone is being flown home in a specially equipped C17 Royal Air Force plane.

Nigerian doctors, who had been on nationwide strike, have decided "due to the national health emergency" to return to work Monday. And meanwhile, Ivory Coast announced Saturday that it's closing its borders in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as the official death toll (excluding 'shadow zones') reaches 1,427; and over 2600 cases as Liberia cases literally explode.

As CNN reports

, a WHO health worker has become infected..

For the first time, a worker with the World Health Organization has fallen ill from Ebola, the WHO told CNN on Sunday.

The health worker is in Sierra Leone and receiving care, the WHO said. No further details were given immediately.

As WHO states:
Since the beginning of the international response to the outbreak in March, WHO has deployed nearly 400 people from across the Organization and from partners in the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) to help respond to the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. This is the first time someone working under the aegis of WHO has fallen ill with the disease.

The Ebola virus is spread through contact with bodily fluids and people giving care or working around infected patients are known to be a high risk group. In the past six months of the outbreak, more than 225 health workers have fallen ill and nearly 130 have lost their lives to the disease they were working to contain.

Which again makes one wonder -

just how easily is this disease really spread if nearly half a year after the start of the epidemic the world's most protected individuals can catch it despite all protective measures?

And separately...

a British citizen infected with the virus in Sierra Leone is being flown home, the British Department of Health announced Sunday.

The man, simply identified as William, lives in the West African nation in a home established by an American university for researchers.

He is a volunteer nurse in Kenema Government Hospital, where he was working with Ebola patients, according to Dr. Robert Garry of Tulane University.


The UK government said a specially equipped C17 Royal Air Force plane would transport the patient, who would be transferred to an isolation unit at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

"UK hospitals have aproven record of dealing with imported infectious diseases and this patient will be isolated and will receive the best care possible," said deputy chief medical officer John Watson in a press release.


Ivory Coast announced Saturday that it's closing its borders in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Prime Minister Daniel Duncan signed the order that closes the land borders Ivory Coast shares with Guinea and Liberia.

The borders will remain closed until further notice in an effort to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading into its territory, according to the government statement.

Finally, Nigerian doctors announced they will return to work after ending a nationwide strike:





And visually, Liberian deaths and cases have exploded

Russia's Central Bank refuses to replace 100-ruble note showing 'intimate parts' of naked Greek God

© Moscow Times

The 100-ruble bill with a picture of Apollo.

A request to have a naked Greek God removed from Russia's widely used 100-ruble note to protect minors has been turned down by the country's Central Bank, a news report said.

Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Roman Khudyakov had appealed to the bank in July, arguing the depiction of Apollo on the banknote showed "intimate parts of the body" and it should therefore come with an "18+" rating.

But the bank has now told the nationalist lawmaker it will not scrap the bill's image of the Apollo statue from Moscow's Bolshoi Theater portico, Russian newspaper


reported Friday.

In a letter to Khudyakov cited by


, the bank's first deputy chairman Georgy Luntovsky said the image of Apollo used on the note is too small for children to discern specific parts of the deity's anatomy.

Granting the image could be regarded as pornographic, Luntovsky said official complaints could only be filed by the state communication watchdog, Roskomnadzor, not by an individual State Duma deputy.

In his initial complaint, Khudyakov had also argued Apollo's image on the bill is outdated - the 'real' Apollo at the Bolshoi has had his private parts covered by fig leaves ever since the theater's large scale reconstruction was completed in 2012.

As an alternative, Khudyakov proposed using a depiction of a landmark in Sevastopol, a Black Sea port city in the peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March.

Operation Rescue Russia and a big "UP YOURS" to Eurangloland

Loser l

© busyminds.ae

More and more of the world’s 85% are happy to give Eurangloland a big, public raspberry – and loving it

A funny thing happened on the way to 500 years of Western Empire and colonialism. Russia just boycotted Eurangloland's (The EU, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) food and agricultural products, which in itself is very telling about ongoing trends. But there's more. The oppressed are biting back. Until recently, the ongoing reaction of the world's non-Eurangloland governments to Russia's stand (those which represent the 85% of our planet's people), would have been unimaginable. So, sit back and enjoy the show.

In all fairness to this proud, global majority, you must add the peoples of Japan and South Korea to Eurangloland's empire. They are militarily occupied, supine satraps to the Princes of Power in Washington. Groveling like dogs, they actually take their barking orders from the West seriously. Throw in a few more countries that cower at the feet of Western Empire and we can say that about 20% of the world's people rule the remaining 80%, not much differently than the pharaohs did over their subjects and slaves in Ancient Egypt. The

Pareto principle

applies here too. This secondary list of client states waxes and wanes, depending on how recently the CIA/MI6/DGSE deep state has installed a whore government in their puppet, local halls of power, or as in the Philippines recently,

which prostrated

itself to America's Worldwide Wehrmacht. Ukraine is the most recent prom slut for Western servitude and so far, Venezuela is holding out admirably against the West's internal efforts at regime change.

Kudos to Russia for its genius to pick ag products as a punch in the solar plexus of power. As Deena Stryker recently pointed out in a

recent article


Anyone who has witnessed European farmers drive their tractors into the center of Brussels and dump crops in front of EU headquarters, knows the hold they have on legislators. Much of European agriculture takes place on family farms and the EU has had to create special rules and subsidies to keep its food producers happy.

Back in the United States this summer, I heard how stupid Putin and Russia were to ban food imports, since "the grocery shelves there are empty and Russians have nothing to eat". Really? This just confirmed to me how insulated Americans are in their Fox-CNN-Wapo-NYT propaganda bubble. Herewith is a list of all the ag products, where Russia ranks at least in the world's top four. Thank you FAO:

russian food production


High resolution image



Wow, a pretty impressive food dossier, if you ask me. Given that much of Russia is in permafrost and the rest of the country has to deal with the world's shortest growing seasons, it is not surprising that Russians want to import what they cannot meteorologically grow, such as temperate fruits and vegetables.

Clearly, as the table above demonstrates, Russians don't need to import a damn thing agriculturally, in order to be nutritionally self-sufficient.

They are now simply much richer and can afford to pay for a more varied diet. Like any trading people, be they African or Asian, variety is the spice of life. Food trade has been going on for at least 8,000 years of sedentary civilization, probably much earlier,

Hey, Neanderthal Nate, I'll trade you this here skin full of mastodon liver for that hindquarter of sabertooth tiger, wadda ya say, bub? N' if you don't mind me saying so, pal, gawd youz iz ug-i-ly!

For our pre-civilization ancestors, trade offered the possibility of direct mutual benefit. Much of the West's five centuries of resource extraction around the world has been to take nutritious and tasty foods and spices from the lands of brown skinned peoples, those 85% just discussed, and bringing it back to home base for obscene profit and culinary pleasure, most of it too expensive except for the wealthiest members of society. So it goes.

Even funnier for the uninformed, Russia does not even rank among the world's top ten food importers. If not then, who are the people so starving to death, that they must resort to importing food, in order to keep their grocery store shelves from being barren?

Hmm. Times must be tough in the United States, Western Europe, Japan and for

all those obese millions in China

, where diabetes, the scourge of modern, sedentary society, is now rampant.

agricultural importing countries

© Maps of the World

Contrary to Western propaganda, picking ag products was pure genius on Russia's part. Not only have they got millions of politically well-connected small farmers pissed off as mad hornets all across Western Europe,

but these are products that We Hate the West countries can readily and happily supply, thus enhancing Russia's relations with BRICS and NAM.

Now, Russia is threatening to ban

car imports

, which would be a dagger in the heart of Western Europe's industrial heartland of Germany, Poland, France, Italy, etc. Russia's car import numbers are not huge, so it would mostly affect BMW and Mercedes-Benz, since Ford, Volkswagen Renault, Toyota and Hyundai have invested $5 billion in automobile manufacturing inside Russia. Still, if you don't think the Russians know what they are doing,

We are seriously concerned. We hope that the Russian government will think twice before taking any such measures as they would hurt all manufacturers,

Said Joerg Schreiber

, chairman of the Association of European Businesses' Automobile Manufacturers Committee.


manufacturers, my dear Herr Joerg? Or mostly European ones? The Russians would of course continue to only allow in the components or materials that are needed to keep their domestic auto industry humming.

Car manufacturing, like many other modern conveniences, has a web of thousands of secondary and tertiary suppliers who ripple across the economy. They would all be adversely affected. And which countries could fill the breach? Why, China and Korea of course. China's Great Wall and Chery cars, as well as Korea's SsangYong brand would love to take advantage of Europe's suffering. Although it's doubtful slavishly obedient Korea would go against its American master's wishes and do so.

Remember, the first rule of the 1% is,

When they are down on the ground, stomp them as hard as you can in the face.

So, for the 99%, turnabout is fair play...

Thus, the world's economically oppressed are starting to rise up. It only took hours after Russia's announcement to boycott Western food, that the 85% were happy to give a cheeky kick to the world's occidental mandibles. Latin America, which for 200 years has more or less been a Monroe Doctrine economic and political prostitute for Washington, was the first to go to the media there are still poor Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, that are US client states - is it a coincidence it's from (

these countries

where all the tens of thousands of children are fleeing American "democracy" and capitalism - and not socialist Nicaragua?). Ecuador, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil came out to proudly say they are ready to help Russia. The EU's attempts

to threaten

these proud, now mostly independent countries is pathetic and denigrating. And since the servile EU cannot pass gas without Washington's permission, the US is implicated too. Sorry Eurmerica, but your genocide of 100 million Native Americans ended some time ago. Take that Cortez! And you Jackson!

Argentina is a major meat and grain producer and added to its official

Hell yes Eurangloland, we'll increase our exports to Russia press release that


(It) is reaffirming its status as food supplier to 400 million people at present and the world's fifth-largest (food) exporter.

And then there is Brazil. Is there anything agricultural that this BRICS behemoth doesn't grow? After all, it's bigger than the continental United States and has the tropical climate to grow crops year round.

Next, the Chinese sounded their Buddhist long horns, announcing that they would move into high gear to build a huge, 100,000m2 special cross-border customs zone

food market and warehouse complex

on their northeastern border, in direct cooperation with their Russian colleagues. When the Chinese decide to do something, it will take them

merely months

to finish the project and get it launched.

At that point, even Eurangloland's supposed allies began to pile on. Turkey, a key member of colonial NATO and an EU pretender,

vocally announced


We're ready to increase food exports to Russia.

Ouch! Talk about a slap in the face. Egypt, a loyal Western client state that merrily helps Israel in the genocide of the Palestinians, is

ready to go

. Ditto Africa, with Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa

making it public

. Just to let Eurangloland know on which side their rye bread is buttered,




lined up to open the food flood gates to their colossus neighbor.

Even Serbia, which is trying to gain ascension into the EU, came out swinging at the West.


, in spite of

explicit threats from Brussels

. Tee hee. Maybe all those thousands of deformed babies and locals, due to NATO's 50,000 rounds of

depleted uranium

laying around, is starting to get to them, a high price indeed to pay for servitude to the West's Princes of Power.

Ahh, uranium 238, the gift that keeps on giving - for 4.5 billion years


In addition to this impressive list of countries now unafraid to give Eurangloland a huge, slobbery raspberry in the face, Russia is also


Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Paraguay, Peru and Sri Lanka, to sign food import contracts. Now that Russia has become the world's sixth largest

gold owner

, even surpassing voracious China, as well as sitting on the world's fifth largest pile of

foreign cash reserves

, more than the United States or any EU country, we can fall back on that ever-so-true adage of American capitalism,

Money talks and shit walks.

Then there are all the numerous, unnamed countries, too timid to give Eurangloland a public kick to the cohones, but will happily and quietly fly to Moscow, food export contracts in hand.

In sum, Russia's choice of food and agriculture products to boycott was a brilliant stroke of win-win diplomacy and economics for the world's 85%, and superb strategy to rally them to help join in the decline of Western Empire.

This would have all been unimaginable 15-20 years ago, and looking back, maybe even ten years. Today it's food, tomorrow automobiles and next? Americans: continue watching Fox and CNN. Keep your faces buried in the

New York Times

and the

Washington Post

. Europeans, keep licking Uncle Sam's blood spattered, Gladio-NATO boots with spineless servitude. It's all coming undone under your noses faster than a speeding Chinese bullet train.

Russia Today may launch new channels in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada

© RT

The government is ready to spend 1.3 billion rubles ($35 million) to create a French-language service at Kremlin-sponsored television news channel RT, according to a draft bill published Thursday on the government's legislation portal.

The new channel will target audiences not only in France, but also Belgium, Switzerland and Canada, according to the explanatory note accompanying the bill.

"World events in these countries are covered, as a rule, in a way that show Russia in an unfavorable light, which leads to the formation of negative attitudes toward Russia," the note said, adding that the new French service is being created to change this situation.

RT, formerly Russia Today, was launched in 2005 and broadcasts in Russian, English, Spanish and Arabic. It now has an audience of 664 million people spread over more than 100 countries, according to its website.

One of the channel's anchors, Liz Wahl, resigned on air in March, accusing the network - viewed by many as a Kremlin propaganda tool - of "whitewashing" Russia's military intervention in Crimea, which was annexed from Ukraine by Moscow just a few weeks later.

Ferguson officer suspended over Facebook post branding protesters 'rabid dogs'

© Reuters/Joshua Lott

Demonstrators protest against the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

A police officer in a St. Louis suburb has been suspended over a series of Facebook posts, insulting Ferguson protesters, who have been rallying in condemnation of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer.

The police department in Glendale, Missouri, announced in a Friday statement that it had suspended police officer, Matthew Pappert, due to "several very concerning and inappropriate posts on his personal Facebook page."

"I'm sick of these protesters," one of the posts says. "You are a burden on society and a blight on the community." The screenshots of an apparently deactivated account have been obtained by

The Daily Caller


"These protesters should have been put down like a rabid dog the first night," Pappert says in another post.

Glendale, MO cop Matthew Pappert. #Fergusonhttp://ift.tt/1pSNTTm

- 3ChicsPolitico (@3ChicsPolitico) August 23, 2014

The Glendale police learnt of the posts on Friday morning and immediately launched an investigation into the matter, according to a statement by Police Chief Jeffrey Beaton, who specified the views expressed in the posts were not shared by the department.

"The matter is being taken very seriously and a thorough internal investigation will be conducted to determine why the posts were made," the statement added.

A press photographer, covering the Ferguson protests, recognized Pappert as one of the police officers summoned to the scene to handle the unrest. The journalist recalled Pappert threatening journalists with a night stick.

"He was ready to swing at us," the photographer told AFP.

Mathew Pappert is not the only police officer suspended amid the Ferguson protests.

Another St. Louis-area police officer, Dan Page, was also suspended on Friday over a controversial YouTube video. It was likely done two years ago, but got into the spotlight recently, after a CNN reporter Don Lemon, who complained of Page pushing him, brought it to the department's attention.


I personally believe in Jesus Christ as my lord savior, but I'm also a killer. I've killed a lot. And if I need to, I'll kill a whole bunch more. If you don't want to get killed, don't show up in front of me, it's that simple

," Page says in an hour-long presentation, which also includes incendiary comments on minority groups, women, liberals and politicians.

The case of Page, a 35-year veteran of the police department, will now be reviewed by the internal affairs unit.

"With the comments on killing... that was obviously something that deeply disturbed me immediately," St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told the

St Louis Post-Dispatch


Earlier this week, a suburban St. Louis police officer, Ray Albers, was


indefinitely for threatening to kill protesters and journalists in Ferguson, Missouri. He was caught on camera while pointing a rifle in the crowd's direction during a demonstration this week.

18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer on August 9 in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb. Brown's death sparked massive protests in the area. Many of those ended in clashes with police using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the rallying crowds.

California police officers accused of screening women on internet dating sites using police system


Court documents show that Fairfield Police Officers Stephen Ruiz and Jacob Glashoff used company time and equipment to search for women on internet dating sites.

The documents also show that two used the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System - a statewide police database - to screen the women they liked.

"I feel like it's an abuse of their power, using it for their own personal gain," said Fairfield resident Carlos Thompson.

The court documents allege another Fairfield officer reported the incidents to his superior back in June.

The reporting officer alleged that both Ruiz and Glashoff found women's profiles had been browsing women on dating websites like Tinder, eHarmony, and Match.com while working at the investigations bureau office of the Fairfield Police Department.

"Downtime during their breaks or whatever, that's their own thing. But not on the clock," said another Fairfield resident.

Court documents allege the officers then used a police-issued computer to look up the women they found appealing in a confidential law enforcement database that connects to the DMV and state and federal records.

Court documents go on to say Sgt. Ruiz and Detective Glashoff would perform the searches and have conversations about the dating sites in front of other officers.

The Fairfield Police Department says it cannot comment on the ongoing investigation because of government code. Another law enforcement agency is in charge of the investigation, police say.

If the allegations are found true, the officers could face felony criminal charges.

Both officers remain assigned to their regular duties.

Dallas cop shoots, kills unarmed man

unarmed man shot

© Unknown

An unarmed man was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in Dallas, Texas on Sunday.

According to Dallas police, the suspect charged at the officer before being shot.

The slain man is Andrew Scott Gaynier, 26, and the officer is Senior Corporal Antonio Hudson.

Corporal Hudon was on Extended Neighborhood Patrol when the incident happened. He was called to the scene in response to a report that Gaynier was making lewd comments to passing females.

When Hudson arrived, he saw Gaynier stop a vehicle with a family inside and try to get in the car. Hudson gave loud verbal commands to Gaynier telling him to step away from the car.

Gaynier turned away from the car, but then started rushing towards Hudson. Hudson shot Gaynier multiple times, killing him.

Several witnesses say Hudson

ordered Gaynier multiple times

to stop and put his hands in the air, but Gaynier ignored each command.

A nearby surveillance camera caught the entire incident on tape, but police are not releasing the footage at this time.

Gaynier was unarmed when he was shot,

NBC Dallas Fort-Worth reports.

Gaynier's attorney called his death a "tragic situation" but said he will wait to comment further as the Dallas Police Department conducts an investigation.

"Andy was unarmed and shot multiple times by a police officer," the attorney's statement says. "This tragic situation is beyond comprehension...at this point we are waiting for the Dallas Police Department to conclude their investigation..."

Israeli bombing intensifies in Gaza as does push for ICC 'war crimes' inquiry


© Reuters/Ezz Zanon

Smoke and flames are seen during what witnesses said was an explosion caused by an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza City August 23, 2014.

Hamas signs off on Palestinian efforts to join International Criminal Court as international legal experts demand accountability

The push to engage the International Criminal Court in an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel for it military attacks on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip is gaining steam among Palestinian political factions as well as members of the international legal community.

On Friday, an international coalition of legal advocacy organizations wrote to the ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, urging her to initiate an investigation into serious crimes committed by Israeli forces during it ongoing military operation against Palestinians living in Gaza, dubbed Operation Protective Edge.

And on Saturday - as Israeli airstrikes and bombing appeared to intensify once again - Hamas made it known that it will now support an effort by the Palestinian Authority to formally join the ICC.

Legal Groups Send Letter to ICC Urging an Investigation


legal organizations

which sent the letter on Friday - including the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the Center for Constitutional Rights, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the Arab Lawyers Union, and the American Association of Jurists - argue that "Israel's clearly disproportionate use of force against the 1.8 million residents of Gaza appears to have little to do with any claim of security, but seems to be calculated to exact revenge against Palestinian civilians." The groups also believe that the U.S. government and others that may have given military support or assistance to Israel throughout the operation should also be considered legitimate targets of the inquiry.

"In light of the mounting evidence about Israel's committing of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against the people of Gaza," stated NLG president Azadeh Shahshahani, "it is incumbent upon the International Criminal Court to initiate an investigation into these crimes as well as the US government's aiding and abetting of them through its military aid."



(pdf) lists the following war crimes, and cites supporting factual allegations for each crime:

-willful killing (over 2,000 Palestinians, 80% civilians)

-willfully causing great suffering or serious injury (wounding nearly 10,000 Palestinians, 2,200 children)

-unlawful, wanton and unjustified extensive destruction and appropriation of property (tens of thousands of Palestinians lost homes, severe damage to infrastructure)

-willful deprivation of fair trial rights (450 Palestinians held without charge or trial); -intentional attacks against civilians or civilian objects or humanitarian vehicles, installations and personnel (bombing of numerous schools, UN places of refuge, hospitals, ambulances, mosques)

-intentionally launching unjustified attacks, knowing they will kill or injure civilians, damage civilian objects, or cause long-term and severe damage to the natural environment (use of 'Dahiya Doctrine' to apply "disproportionate force" and cause "great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations," as defined in UN Human Rights Council [Goldstone] Report)


to Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the NLG, "It remains to be seen whether the ICC will exercise jurisdiction in such a case since neither Israel nor the United States is a party to the Rome Statute. But if the ICC determines that Palestine can accede to the Rome Statute, the ICC could take jurisdiction over crimes committed by Israelis and Americans in Palestinian territory."

Hamas joins Palestinian effort to join ICC

Hamas, the military and political power that controls the Gaza Strip, has become the latest Palestinian faction to officially support a possible attempt by the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court.

Officials with Hamas acknowledged their decision on Saturday and the petition - if approved by the PA and accepted by the ICC - could pave the way for war crimes charges to be brought against Israel for its ongoing military attack on the besieged Gaza Strip that has so far resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 people, of which the United Nations estimates more than 1,500 were civilians, including hundreds of children.


to the

Ma'an News Agency


"Hamas signed the document which (Palestinian) president (Mahmoud Abbas) put forth as a condition that all factions approve, before he goes to sign the Rome Statute, which paves the way for Palestine's membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC)," Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzouq wrote on his Facebook page.

The Palestinian declaration came after two days of talks in Qatar between Abbas and Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal, whose movement is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP that the Islamic Jihad, the second most powerful force in Gaza, "is currently the only Palestinian faction that has not signed" the document.

"They are studying the possibility of signing," he added.

According to Erakat, "the document calls on president Abbas to sign the Rome Statute to join the ICC, and indicates all the signatories assume responsibility for this membership."

Israel has signed but not ratified the Rome Statute.

The Guardian reports


Since the start of the Gaza war, Abbas has come under growing domestic pressure to pave the way for a possible war crimes investigation of Israel. Last month, he told senior PLO officials and leaders of smaller political groups he would only go ahead if Hamas supported the bid.

If Abbas were to turn to the court, Hamas could be investigated for indiscriminate rocket fire at Israel since 2000. Israel could come under scrutiny for its actions in the current Gaza war as well as decades of settlement building on war-won lands the Palestinians seek for a state.

Izzat Rishq, a senior Hamas official, said on Saturday that Hamas was not concerned about becoming a target of a war crimes investigation and urged Abbas to act "as soon as possible".

"We are under occupation, under daily attack and our fighters are defending their people," he said in a phone interview from Qatar. "These rockets are meant to stop Israeli attacks and it is well known that Israel initiated this war and previous wars."


to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency on Saturday, over 460,000 Palestinians - a full one-fourth of the total population of the Gaza Strip - are now internally displaced. The majority of these people and their families, an estimated 314,000 Palestinians, have sought refuge in 84 UNRWA administered schools that have now become emergeny shelters.

"The number of internally-displaced people seeking shelter in our installations as a result of the conduct of hostilities is unprecedented in our history," the agency announced. Adding, "There are no indications the military escalation in Gaza will come to an end soon."

Death toll rises in Saturday attacks

Israeli airstrikes against Gaza continued with additional casualties reported on Saturday.



Agence France-Presse


Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a 12-story apartment tower in downtown Gaza City on Saturday, collapsing the building, sending a huge fireball into the sky and wounding at least 22 people, including 11 children, witnesses and Palestinian officials said.

Israel has launched some 5,000 airstrikes against Gaza in nearly seven weeks of fighting with Hamas, but Saturday's strike marked the first time an entire high-rise was toppled.

The explosion shook nearby buildings.

Gaza police say Israeli aircraft fired a warning missile at the roof of the tower at dusk, followed five minutes later by two missiles with explosives.

Ayman Sahabani, the head of the emergency room at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, said at least 22 people were wounded, including 11 children and five women.

The leveling of the tower was a further sign of escalation following a breakdown of Egyptian-brokered cease-fire talks and the collapse of a temporary truce earlier this week.


Ma'an recounted

others strikes that resulted in other deaths and injuries:

Four Palestinians were killed on Saturday afternoon and dozens injured as Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip continued into its 47th day, as fears grew that Israel was planning to intensify its assault a day after a child was killed in mortar fire in southern Israel.

The deaths in Israeli airstrikes brought the total number of deaths in Gaza on Saturday to 12, including five members of one family, and the total death toll since the beginning of Israel's Operation Protective Edge to 2,105.

Spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said that a 10-year-old Palestinian named Hussein Ahmad and his mother Nisreen Ahmad were killed and two others injured in an airstrike that hit a house in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza Strip.

The body of Suheir Abu Mdein was also recovered from under rubble in Deir al-Balah.

Witnesses told Ma'an that an airstrike hit the house of Abu Anwar Saliha near Yaffa mosque.

Earlier, 64-year-old Muhammad Sabir al-Ijlah was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Juhr al-Dik in the northeastern Gaza Strip that also injured seven others.

Additionally, medical sources said a man was killed and several others were injured by Israeli airstrikes in al-Jneina neighborhood in Rafah in the south. Another unidentified man was killed in the central Gaza Strip in an air strike, while Salah Isleim succumbed to wounds he sustained three weeks ago in Khan Younis.

The deaths on Saturday began with the killing of five Palestinians including three children in an airstrike on the home of the Abu Dahrouj family in the al-Zawayda neighborhood of the central Gaza Strip.

Al-Qidra named the victims as 4-year-old Abdullah Hayil Abu Dahdouh, 49-year-old Hayat Abed Rabbo Abu Dahdouh, 27-year-old Huda Muhammad Abu Dahdouh, 26-year-old Hayil Shihdeh Abu Dahdouh and 3-year-old Hadi Hayil Abu Dahdouh.

Israel has killed more than 80 Palestinians since it resumed its assault on Gaza on Tuesday as a temporary ceasefire fell apart amid an impasse in indirect negotiations in Cairo.

Ukraine needs 5 Bln cubic meters of Russian gas for the coming winter

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk

© RIA Novosti/Alexander Maksimenko

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk at a meeting of the government.

Ukraine needs to purchase additional five billion cubic meters of

gas from Russia

for the forthcoming winter season, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Friday.

"Can Ukraine now survive without Russian gas? No, it can't. How much Russian gas do we need to buy? About 5 billion cubic meters," he said in an interview with Ukrainian TV channels.

He said that three-party gas talks, involving Ukraine, Russia and the European Union, are scheduled to take place next month.

"I hope there will be some final stage to these talks," he said.

He added that Kiev had reserved $3.1 billion for gas purchases in the National Bank of Ukraine.

On June 16, Russian gas giant


introduced a prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine amid a dispute with Kiev over its $4.5 billion gas debt. The European Commission and Gazprom anticipate problems in winter, when Kiev is likely to run out of its own gas reserves.

The Russian compromise was a $100 discount to the contract price, bringing it down to $385, as well as a phased debt repayment scheme.

Ukraine declined the offer, dissatisfied with the discount mechanism.Current Ukraine's gas debt is estimated to be more than

$5 billion


Comment: How is it that Ukraine feels it can "decline" a break from a country it already owes more than Ukraine is worth for gas it has already consumed? If Ukraine is expecting help from either the EU or the US, whose bidding it does, it might possibly be in for a shock. Psychopaths have no trouble double-crossing an ally when that ally becomes a liability. Honor among thieves is a myth in the world of psychopaths.

It also puts Putin in a delicate situation. If he acts as a good capitalist, and refuses to deliver any more product until what is owing is paid, he will be labeled heartless. But neither can Ukraine be allowed to skip on the debt. Then he will be labeled weak. How Putin handles the situation bears watching.

Earlier, Ukrainian national oil and gas company


suggested to European companies purchasing Russian gas on the border between Russia and Ukraine. The European Commission said it would require a renegotiation of the transit contracts and a trilateral meeting between the European Commission, Russia and Ukraine.

On August 11, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko discussed the possibility of resuming gas talks between Ukraine, Russia and the European Union with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

No end in sight: California's record drought is making Earth's surface rise

© Ruaridh Stewart/ZUMA Press/Corbis

California’s exceptional drought has exposed the bottom of Big Bear Lake.

The record-breaking California drought is so bad that monitoring stations used to study earthquakes can detect the drying ground rising up. Measurements of these subtle movements, made using GPS instruments,

suggest that the western United States is missing some 62 trillion gallons of water, enough to cover the entire region six inches deep.

Drought has plagued various parts of the

western United States

for years. California's dry times started at the beginning of 2013 and have continued to worsen.

Nearly 100 percent of the state is now experiencing drought conditions

, according to the

U.S. Drought Monitor

, and

more than half the state falls under the most severe category of "exceptional drought .


Water restrictions

are in place.

Farmers have been hard hit

. And some people are even

questioning participation

in the viral "ice-bucket challenge" that is raising awareness and funding for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

While it's not difficult to see parched lawns and drying lakes, and scientists can directly measure changes in rainfall and stream flow, getting a measure of how much water has been lost from the desiccating landscape hasn't been easy. The new study,

appearing today

in the journal


provides a way to do just that by taking advantage of GPS monitors set up across the country.


Plate Boundary Observatory

consists of more than 1,000 permanent GPS stations, with the majority concentrated along the seismically active West Coast. The stations measure millimeter-size movements of the ground, and scientists use that data to study what is happening at the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. But Adrian Borsa, a geophysicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, noticed an odd trend in the data: Most of the stations have been gradually rising in the last couple of years, just when the region was drying out.

Earth's surface moves up and down depending on the amount of water in the ground, in much the same way that a block of rubber moves down when you press on it and rebounds when you relieve the pressure. "It is the natural elastic response of most materials," Borsa says. Earth will rise slightly as groundwater drains away and pressure decreases. But with rock, the effect is generally too small to see unless you look over great distances with highly sensitive gear.

So Borsa and his colleagues mapped Earth's surface movements from 772 stations between 2003 and March 2014. They made sure to ignore data from monitors near sites that were changing due to geologic reasons, as well as those near aquifers and along California's Central Valley, where underground water is being pumped out. On local scales, draining an aquifer causes the ground to subside rather than lift up, because the surface collapses to fill in the space left behind.

The team saw small movements from year to year, but by March 2013, most stations in southern California had begun to steadily rise. By March of this year, nearly all of the monitoring units across California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Utah and Nevada experienced uplift. Maps of the station movements match neatly with maps of deviation from normal precipitation.

The movements in California have been tiny - on average just 0.15 inches, with up to half an inch in the mountains. But they reflect an enormous amount of water lost from reservoirs, snowpack and groundwater.

"The existing GPS network in the western U.S. - and anywhere, for that matter - can now be used to provide a real-time picture of the total water available to the natural and built environment," says Borsa.

Earlier this year,

one study suggested

that pumping water out of the large aquifer sitting beneath the center of California could affect the San Andreas fault. If there's one bit of good news from the latest study, it comes from Borsa's colleague Duncan Agnew, who conducted an analysis of the stress on the San Andreas due to the drying of California. Agnew, Borsa says, found only a negligible impact on seismicity.