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Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 07:39 AM
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Journal Archives

Breaking: Iraqi Official Says Hundreds of Yazidi Women Taken Captive by Islamic State Militants

Source: Associated Press

@BreakingNews: Iraqi official says hundreds of Yazidi women taken captive by Islamic State militants - @AP http://t.co/ZXnCLM8hp0/s/IQ9K


— Aug. 8, 2014 3:06 PM EDT

BAGHDAD (AP) — The spokesman for Iraq's human rights ministry says hundreds of women from the Yazidi religious minority have been taken captive by militants from the Islamic State group.

Kamil Amin says the women are below the age of 35 and some are being held in schools in Iraq's second largest city, Mosul. He said the ministry learned of the captives from their families.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled when the Islamic State group earlier this month captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. Amin's comments were the first Iraqi government confirmation that some women were being held by the group. The Yazidis practice an ancient religion that the Sunni Muslim radicals consider heretical.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/iraq-official-militants-hold-100s-yazidi-women

Obama Launches Humanitarian Air Drops in Iraq

Source: CBS News

@BreakingNews: President Obama approves humanitarian air drops in northern Iraq, US officials tell @NBCNews, @CBSNews, @CNN http://t.co/U5OjkTiIC6/s/Rx0V

Obama launches humanitarian air drops in Iraq

Aug 7, 2014 6:37 PM EDT

President Obama has approved air drops of food and water on a mountain in Iraq where a group of religious minorities remains trapped by Islamic militants, CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports.

The president also considering using airstrikes to help break the siege by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which is increasing its march toward the Kurdish region of Iraq and seized the country's largest dam Thursday.

ISIS has targeted religious minorities including Christians and the Yazidis, a religious group with ties to Zoroastrianism. An estimated 15,000 of them are caught on a mountaintop with no food or water, but afraid to descend into ISIS-held territory where they might be killed.

The decision to deploy U.S. air power represents a significant escalation of America's involvement in the bloody civil conflict. As ISIS gathered strength over the last few months, the U.S. stepped up its nonlethal assistance to the Iraqi government. And at the end of June, Mr. Obama sent approximately 300 troops to Iraq to train and advise Iraq's army, though they were not to be deployed in combat. An additional 450 U.S. personnel followed shortly thereafter.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-approves-humanitarian-air-drops-in-iraq

Breaking: Edward Snowden's Lawyer Says Snowden Granted Permission to Stay in Russia for 3 More Years

Source: Reuters

@Reuters: Snowden receives three-year Russian residence permit: lawyer http://t.co/6FEMFZati5/s/UO01

@AP: BREAKING: Edward Snowden's lawyer says Snowden is granted permission to stay in Russia for 3 more years

Snowden receives three-year Russian residence permit: lawyer

MOSCOW | Thu Aug 7, 2014 6:24am EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has received a three-year residence permit from Russia, his Russian lawyer told reporters on Thursday.

"The decision on the application has been taken and therefore starting Aug. 1 2014 Edward Snowden has received a three-year residential permit," Anatoly Kucherena said.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN0G70ZR20140807

Human Rights Watch: Israeli Soldiers Shot and Killed Fleeing Civilians in Gaza


Gaza: Israeli Soldiers Shoot and Kill Fleeing Civilians

Fighting in Khuza’a Shows Grave Dangers to Families Seeking Safety

(Gaza) – Israeli forces in the southern Gaza town of Khuza’a fired on and killed civilians in apparent violation of the laws of war in several incidents between July 23 and 25, 2014. Deliberate attacks on civilians who are not participating in the fighting are war crimes.

Seven Palestinians who had fled Khuza’a described to Human Rights Watch the grave dangers that civilians have faced in trying to flee the town, near the Israeli border, to seek safety in Khan Younis. These included repeated shelling that struck apparent civilian structures, lack of access to necessary medical care, and the threat of attack from Israeli forces as they tried to leave the area.

- snip -

Human Rights Watch investigated several incidents between July 23 and 25 when, local residents said, Israeli forces opened fire on civilians trying to flee Khuza’a, but no Palestinian fighters were present at the time and no firefights were taking place.

- snip -

Human Rights Watch interviewed displaced residents from Khuza’a in Khan Younis. They said they believed that several hundred people were trapped and unable to leave Khuza’a, and expressed concern that many bodies were left in the rubble after intensive Israeli shelling.

Human Rights Watch was unable to conduct research in Khuza’a itself. All four roads leading to the town were impassable due to large bomb craters, and it was not clear whether Israeli forces would permit entrance.


Lawyer: One of Men Accused of Masterminding Israeli Teens' Murders Confessed Under Heavy Torture


Israel Releases Details Of Hamas Cell Accused Of Kidnapping And Killing Three Israeli Teens

A lawyer for one of the men tells BuzzFeed his client was “tortured” during interrogation.

Posted on Aug. 6, 2014, at 4:45 p.m.

HEBRON, West Bank — One of the men accused of involvement in the kidnapping and murder of three teenagers confessed to masterminding the crime under "heavy torture," his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Hussam Qawasmeh was detained by Israel three weeks ago in the wake of the murder of the three teens — Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha'er, and Naftali Frankel — which prompted a series of events that sparked the Gaza conflict.

- snip -

"Since the kidnapping of the Israeli teens, the number of cases where torture is being used is unbelievable," Qawasami said in an interview with BuzzFeed in East Jerusalem. "Anyone who has any connection or relationship to the kidnappers has been arrested and tortured."

- snip -

"It is obvious that what happened in Hebron was an individual incident. If it had been organized by Hamas, the kidnappers would not have been allowed to kill the three boys they would have wanted to keep them alive in order to bargain and try to use them to release prisoners," said Ala Rimawi, an expert in Islamist parites and Hamas member in the West Bank. Hamas advocates armed resistance against Israel, and has in the past used suicide bombings, kidnappings, and shootings to attack Israel.


Art Pope Stepping Down As Budget Director

Just long enough to do the damage...

Art Pope stepping down as North Carolina budget director

August 6, 2014 | Updated 19 minutes ago

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s budget director Art Pope, a major conservative donor with broad influence who became a lightning rod for critics, is leaving his post in Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration.

McCrory announced the move Wednesday and named his replacement, Lee Roberts, a Raleigh bank executive who is the son of broadcast journalist and political analyst Cokie Roberts.

Pope said he will return to running his family’s retail business, Variety Wholesalers, and declined to discuss in detail his plans for his future political involvement, though he did say he would continue to support candidates.

The governor said the departure was anticipated and not related to Pope’s controversial role in the administration. Democratic activists consider Pope a lightning rod because he helped finance the 2010 campaign that gave Republicans control of the state legislature for the first time in more than a century.

When he hired Pope at the start of his term in 2013, McCrory said Pope agreed to serve just one year at a $1 annual salary. McCrory said he convinced Pope to remain on the team through the end of the two-year legislative cycle. Pope said he expected to officially step down Sept. 5.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/06/4054369/art-pope-stepping-down-as-north.html#emlnl=Breaking_News#storylink=cpy

BREAKING: New Leaker Disclosing U.S. Secrets

Source: CNN

@cnnadam: EXCLUSIVE: US govt has concluded there's a new leaker exposing national security documents post-Snowden, @evanperez reporting. More soon.

CNN Breaking News - A new leaker is exposing national security documents, U.S. officials tell CNN. Reply STOP 2 unsub

updated 3:27 PM EDT 08.05.14

New leaker disclosing U.S. secrets

By Evan Perez, CNN

(CNN) - The federal government has concluded there's a new leaker exposing national security documents in the aftermath of surveillance disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, U.S. officials tell CNN.

Proof of the newest leak comes from national security documents that formed the basis of a news story published Tuesday by the Intercept, the news site launched by Glenn Greenwald, who also published the Snowden's leaks.

The Intercept article focuses on the growth in U.S. government databases of known or suspected terrorist names during the Obama administration.

The article cites documents prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center dated August 2013, which is after Snowden flew to Russia to avoid U.S. criminal charges.

Greenwald has suggested there was another leaker. In July, he said on Twitter "it seems clear at this point" that there was another. Government officials have been investigating to find out who.

The biggest database, called the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, now has 1 million names, a U.S. official confirmed to CNN.

That's boosted from half that many in the aftermath of the botched attempt by the so-called underwear bomber to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner on Christmas Day in 2009.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/05/politics/u-s-new-leaker/index.html

@jeremyscahill: Direct links to SECRET gov't watchlisting documents we published today: https://t.co/ipgXej4e9R/s/XfGd & https://t.co/1YxO8QmCwj/s/f0Oq


Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers

By Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux5 Aug 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

Nearly half of the people on the U.S. government’s widely shared database of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist group, according to classified government documents obtained by The Intercept.

Of the 680,000 people caught up in the government’s Terrorist Screening Database—a watchlist of “known or suspected terrorists” that is shared with local law enforcement agencies, private contractors, and foreign governments—more than 40 percent are described by the government as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” That category—280,000 people—dwarfs the number of watchlisted people suspected of ties to al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined.

The documents, obtained from a source in the intelligence community, also reveal that the Obama Administration has presided over an unprecedented expansion of the terrorist screening system. Since taking office, Obama has boosted the number of people on the no fly list more than ten-fold, to an all-time high of 47,000—surpassing the number of people barred from flying under George W. Bush.

“If everything is terrorism, then nothing is terrorism,” says David Gomez, a former senior FBI special agent. The watchlisting system, he adds, is “revving out of control.”


Likud's Dahiya Doctrine: what It & Its Implications Are - Truthout Op/Ed


The Dahiya Doctrine: State Terrorism and a Philosophy of War Crime

Saturday, 02 August 2014 10:31
By Stephen Benavides, Truthout | Op-Ed

What Is the Dahiya Doctrine?

In the 2006 Lebanon War, Israel Defense Force Northern Commander Gadi Eisenkot, now the deputy chief of general staff, recommended and had approved the application of a military strategy that would target and destroy an entire civilian area rather than fight to overtake fortified positions one by one. This was in an effort to minimize IDF casualties while at the same time holding the entire civilian populace accountable for the actions of a few. A move some called revolutionary in modern warfare, the doctrine did away with the effort to distinguish between militant and civilian, using an overwhelming display of force through airstrikes to destroy the entire Lebanese Dahiya quarter.

The strategy itself calls for the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in order to induce suffering and severe distress throughout the targeted population. By targeting indiscriminately, the IDF hopes to deter further military attacks against Israel, destroy its enemies, as well as influence the population to oust the militants seen as the primary target. The IDF has planned on using the strategy since 2008, and is seen as doing so in the current conflict in Gaza based on the increasing number of civilian casualties. The result so far has been the death of more than 1,200 Palestinians, including 241 children and 130 women. Of the estimated death count, more than 70 percent have been identified as innocent civilians. The Dahiya Doctrine amounts to the direct use of state terrorism and is now the functioning military policy of the IDF.

The destruction of locations such as UN Relief and Works Agency shelters, mosques and residences of unaffiliated individuals is at minimum an agreed upon collateral objective in addition to the Hamas tunnel system and the militants themselves.

The IDF argues that it has no other choice because Hamas uses locations such as these to shield military activities, making detection more difficult. After the 2008 Gaza War, the UN deployed a fact-finding mission to conduct an investigation into allegations made by both sides. The UN issued the "Goldstone Report," which said among other things that, "On the basis of the investigations it has conducted, the Mission did not find any evidence to support the allegations that hospital facilities were used by the Gaza authorities or by Palestinian armed groups to shield military activities and that ambulances were used to transport combatants or for other military purposes." One alleged war crime (hiding among the civilian population) does not give rise for the justification of another: the killing of women, children and civilians. Even now, artillery shells struck a second UN shelter resulting in civilian casualties and attacks against a power plant may have killed 15 workers trapped inside and may effectively eliminate electricity for the majority of the population.

- snip -

Additional Protocol 1, Article 51 (3) of the Geneva Conventions is designed to provide civilians immunity from attack "unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities." Articles 76 (women) and 77 (children), 15 (civilian medical personnel and religious) and 79 (journalist) provide special protections for each category respectively. Israel is not a signatory to Protocol 1, but surprisingly enough Palestine is after the Palestinian Authority signed the accord on February 4, 2014, even while the United States and Israel opposed the action. In 2009, Palestine gained recognition as a nonmember observer state, and according to Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, may qualify as a state and gain full status as an ICC member. This would enable Palestine to bring war crimes charges against Israel, under a provision that allows for the charges of crimes committed before gaining state recognition as long as the alleged crimes occurred after the formation of the ICC in 2002.


Stephen Benavides is a policy analyst and union organizer from Dallas, TX. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of North Texas and has done graduate research in econometrics and economic theory. Follow his twitter at @S_Benavides1.

From Wikileaks Cables:

Wikileaks account Tweeted this earlier:

@wikileaks: Wikileaks cable on #Israel's "Dahiya Doctrine" - deliberate targeting of civilian areas with excessive force #Gaza https://t.co/iGG19hpQ3l/s/Q1Md


Office Origin:-- N/A or Blank --
Office Action:-- N/A or Blank -- Archive Status:-- Not Assigned --
From:Israel Tel Aviv Markings:-- Not Assigned --
To:Egypt Cairo | Israel Jerusalem | Joint Chiefs of Staff | Jordan Amman | Lebanon Beirut | National Security Council | Secretary of Defense | Secretary of State | Syria Damascus

- snip -

6. (S) Eisenkot labeled any Israeli response to resumed
conflict the "Dahiya doctrine" in reference to the leveled
Dahiya quarter in Beirut during the Second Lebanon War in
2006. He said Israel will use disproportionate force upon
any village that fires upon Israel, "causing great damage and
destruction." Eisenkot made very clear: this is not a
recommendation, but an already approved plan -- from the
Israeli perspective, these are "not civilian villages, they
are military bases." Eisenkot in this statement echoed
earlier private statements made by IDF Chief of General Staff
Gabi Ashkenazi, who said the next fight in Southern Lebanon
would come at a much higher cost for both sides -- and that
the IDF would not hold back.

7. (SBU) Eisenkot stated that Damascus fully understands what
the Israelis did in Dahiya, and that the Israelis have the
capability of doing the same to Syria. He suggested the
possibility of harm to the population has been Hizballah
leader Nasrallah's main constraint, and the reason for the
quiet over the past two years. Eisenkot criticized media
coverage of Nasrallah, arguing it legitimizes and equalizes
Nasrallah as an adversary.

New Snowden Files Article: "U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack"


Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: the U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack

By Glenn Greenwald

4 Aug 2014, 12:00 AM EDT

The U.S. government has long lavished overwhelming aid on Israel, providing cash, weapons and surveillance technology that play a crucial role in Israel’s attacks on its neighbors. But top secret documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shed substantial new light on how the U.S. and its partners directly enable Israel’s military assaults – such as the one on Gaza.

Over the last decade, the NSA has significantly increased the surveillance assistance it provides to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU; also known as Unit 8200), including data used to monitor and target Palestinians. In many cases, the NSA and ISNU work cooperatively with the British and Canadian spy agencies, the GCHQ and CSEC.

- snip -

Last September, the Guardian revealed that the NSA “routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens.” The paper published the full top secret Memoranadum of Understanding between the two agencies governing that sharing. But the NSA/ISNU relationship extends far beyond that.

One newly disclosed top secret NSA document, dated April 13, 2013 and published today by the Intercept, recounts that the “NSA maintains a far-reaching technical and analytic relationship with the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU) sharing information on access, intercept, targeting, language, analysis and reporting.”

Specifically, “this SIGINT relationship has increasingly been the catalyst for a broader intelligence relationship between the United States and Israel”. Moreover, “NSA’s cyber partnerships expanded beyond ISNU to include Israeli Defense Intelligence’s SOD and Mossad.”


Hammond Condemns 'Intolerable Suffering' in Gaza

Source: Telegraph UK

Hammond condemns 'intolerable suffering' in Gaza

By Tim Ross, Political Correspondent
9:00PM BST 02 Aug 2014

The British public is “deeply disturbed” by the suffering of the people of Gaza, Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, has said.

His comments are the Government’s strongest condemnation so far of the crisis in the Middle East.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hammond said he had received thousands of emails, from a “broad swathe” of people, expressing horror at the impact of Israel’s bombardment on Gaza’s civilian population.

The Government agreed that the situation in Gaza had become “simply intolerable”, he said.

Mr Hammond also raised concerns that Israel’s military action, launched in response to Hamas rocket fire, would lead to an increase in anti-Semitic attacks in Britain.

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11008491/Hammond-condemns-intolerable-suffering-in-Gaza.html

Note: Hammond (member of the Cameron government) is a British conservative.

In May 2012, he said same-sex marriage is "too controversial". In January 2013 during a visit to the University of London Royal Holloway's Egham campus in Surrey he compared same-sex-marriage to incest. In May 2013 Philip Hammond abstained and became one of four Cabinet Ministers not to vote in favour of gay marriage.
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