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Member since: Thu Jan 12, 2012, 03:24 PM
Number of posts: 8,274

Journal Archives

Two more holes discovered in northern Russia

Local newspapers have claimed that Reindeer herders bumped into two more giant holes in the ground in northern Russia. This news comes in two weeks after the discovery of the giant hole in the gas-rich Yamal peninsula.

Both the two newly discovered holes are located above the Arctic Circle, one is located in the Yamal and the other in the Taymyr peninsula to the east of Yamal, in Kransoyark region. The first hole was explored and measured at 195 feet in diameter with a depth of around 300 feet. The second hole inside Yamal has a diameter of 50 feet, and its depth is currently unknown. The third hole in Kransoyark was 13 feet in diameter and is estimated to be around 200 to 325 feet deep.

Yamal area where two of these three holes have been found is inhabited by indigenous reindeer herders and is one of Russia's richest regions in natural gas. Formation of one of the newly found hole in this region was witnessed by local residents on September 23 last year. One claims that the ground began to smoke and was followed by a bright flash, while the other indicates that a celestial body fell and crashed into the permafrost.


1,200+ killed in Gaza, 40 percent declared DMZ, evacuation notices and ROUTINE bombing of shelters

This is a massacre. These are war crimes.

It is indefensible and unacceptable. This long ago ceased being about self-defense, rockets or tunnels. It is long past time for the US to give the war criminals an ultimatum: End the slaughter now, or no more US dollars. The blood of the innocent Palestinian is on our hands.

Here is picture of Israel warning of more bombings to come. Of course, there is no where safe to go. There never has been. Israel has declared 40 percent of Gaza a DMZ, Israel has routinely bombed UN shelters, Israel has even bombed the power supplies. There is no where left to go. Israel is shooting fish in a barrel and enjoying the support of US leaders while they do it. It is disgusting and shameful.

Power, TV and Radio Stations Hit in Gaza

GAZA CITY — Israeli airstrikes flattened the vacant four-story home of Hamas’s top political leader in the Gaza Strip and destroyed offices of the organization’s radio and television station early Tuesday, broadening Israel’s targets as diplomacy toward a cease-fire sputtered in confusion on the battle’s 22nd day.

Palestinians said Israeli strikes had also hit Gaza’s only power plant, where an enormous fire hurtled thick, black smoke skyward, visible for miles. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner of the Israeli military said he was still looking into the circumstances of the fire, including “whether we had anything to do with it.”

But the attacks on Hamas’s media operation and the home of Ismail Haniya, the deputy chief of Hamas who is second only to Khaled Meshal, the leader who lives in exile in Qatar, signified Israel’s widened roster of targets marked for destruction in the conflict, the deadliest in years.

The strikes, during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, came after the latest humanitarian halt to hostilities collapsed because of attacks on both sides, culminating in the most deadly incursion yet by Palestinian militants through a tunnel from Gaza into Israel.

* * *
The shutdown of the power plant, which Israel previously attacked in 2006 and which sat idle for weeks this past winter for lack of fuel, threatened to turn the deprivations in Gaza into a humanitarian crisis. The facility powers water and sewage systems as well as hospitals, and it had been Gaza’s main source of electricity in recent days after eight of 10 lines that run from Israel were damaged.

“Today there is no electricity in Gaza,” said Jamal Dardasawi of Gaza’s electricity distribution company, noting that the power supplied by Egypt is not even enough for the southern city of Rafah. “The shelling of the station is a violation of all red lines.”


Israel Steps Up Attacks Against Hamas in Gaza (Strikes Gaza's Only Power Plant)

Israeli forces pounded Hamas symbols of control and the Gaza Strip's only power plant Tuesday in their heaviest bombardment of a three-week offensive in Gaza, defying international demands for an immediate cease-fire after Hamas militants broke a Muslim holiday lull.

The military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, said the assault on Gaza's Hamas rulers, which has cost more than 1,100 lives, was being "intensified." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis late Monday to brace for a long fight.

In a televised address, Mr. Netanyahu had given no sign that the military would go beyond its stated goals—degrading Hamas's rocket arsenal and finding and destroying a network of cross-border tunnels that fighters use to infiltrate Israel. The military needs about another week to accomplish that, officials said.

But the overnight strikes by Israeli aircraft, tanks and navy gunboats on dozens of targets pointed to a wider campaign.

* * *

Another strike engulfed Gaza's power plant in flames, forcing it to shut down, said Fathi El Sheikh Khalil, manager of the territory's power authority.

The main source of Gaza's electricity is Israel, but many of those power lines have been destroyed by the fighting. The damage to the Gaza plant could leave much of Gaza without electricity.


"Steps up" is a too sanitized description. Israel is destroying a people. Israel is systematically and intentionally committing sustained war crimes. This is not "self-defense." This is slaughter of innocents.

Bernie Sanders did not support the Senate agreement on Israel

The resolution was passed by a unanimous consent agreement, meaning no senator opposed it. 79 senators signed on to support it. Sanders could have signed on in support, but he did not. He was one of only 21 who did not support it. He did not oppose it either.

He made this point clear on his website:

Israel-Palestine: The Senate last week passed a resolution without a formal roll call vote by unanimous consent supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas. Writing for Salon, David Palumbo-Liu noted that Sen. Sanders “voted” for the resolution which actually passed without a vote.

His website also includes this news item:

Potential War Crimes in Gaza Fight The United Nation’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said Wednesday that there was a “strong possibility” that Israel and Hamas have committed war crimes with their indiscriminate attacks on civilians, The New York Times reported.


He is reported to have written this in a letter during the Israel-Hamas conflict in 2009:

Thank you very much for contacting me about the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza that resulted in the loss of hundreds of Palestinian lives. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to you on this important issue.

As you know, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been of the world’s most difficult disputes over the last half century. The hatred, violence and loss of life that define this conflict make living an ordinary life a constant struggle for both peoples. This crisis not only endangers the Middle East but also creates enormous instability throughout the region and ultimately, the world.

Recently, this decades-old conflict spilled over once more as Israel launched a major military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in order to counter Palestinian rocket fire into its cities and, more broadly, to significantly weaken Hamas rule in Gaza. Tragically, the operation resulted in more than 1,200 Palestinian deaths, the majority of whom were civilians. Thirteen Israelis also lost their lives in the battle before both sides declared temporary cease-fires.

While I fully support Israel’s right to defend itself from the constant barrage of rockets Hamas fires into its homes and urban centers, I have strongly condemned the use of violence by either side as a means for achieving its goals. Leaders on both sides must recognize that the only solution to this conflict is thorough a political process that recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination and the right of Jews to a safe and secure homeland in Israel.

Unfortunately, the approach of the Bush administration over the last eight years has been one of disengagement from the conflict and complacency with the status quo. This approach has been shown to be not just ineffective, but detrimental to achieving the long-term goals each side seeks. Worse yet, the United States’ inaction on this issue has consistently been out of sync with our allies and has weakened the international coalition’s efforts to resolve this conflict.

That is why I wholeheartedly support the new Obama administration is its commitment to expand our diplomatic presence in the region and to take a more active role in facilitating negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian leadership. To that end, President Obama recently appointed Senator George Mitchell as a Special Envoy to the Middle East. I believe Senator Mitchell is uniquely qualified for this role due to his ability to listen to both sides in conflicts, his non-confrontational manner and his years of experience in negotiating peace agreements.

Moving forward, the United States must again be a leader in helping bring both sides together to negotiate a final status agreement. We must work with those Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are truly committed to peace, security and statehood rather than empty rhetoric and violence. We must also enlist the help of the United Nations and the international community to lend support for a two-track process that provides the Palestinians with a state of their own while ensuring the security of the Israeli people.

A two-state solution must include compromises from both sides to achieve a fair and lasting peace in the region. The Palestinians must fulfill their responsibilities to arrest terrorists, confiscate terrorists’ weapons, dismantle terrorist organizations, halt all anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement, and recognize Israel’s right to exist. In return, the Israelis must end their policy of targeted killings, prevent further Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, and prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Further, instead of being used as a political football, the Palestinians should be given the financial support of wealthy Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as the rest of the international community. Frankly, I have little respect for the leaders of wealthy Arab countries who express great concern about the plight of the Palestinians, while they put billions in Swiss bank accounts. Economic assistance is desperately needed to help create jobs and improve the desperately low standard of living that afflicts so many Palestinians.

I have long believed that one of the best antidotes to war and international tension are citizen exchange programs. In many instances, when people of different backgrounds get to know each other on a personal and human level, differences of opinion can be worked out or, at least, a mutual understanding can be established.

To that end, I was proud to sign a letter last year calling for $20 million in funding for the Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Reconciliation and Democracy Fund, which helps support “through Palestinian and Israeli organizations, the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom of the press, and non-violence among Palestinians, and peaceful coexistence and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.” Included is $10 million for the People-to-People Exchange Program, which among other things, trains hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian teachers in peace education.

While I was in the U.S. House of Representatives, I was also very pleased to introduce and pass legislation that established the Arab-Israeli Peace Partners Program in Vermont. This program allocated $1.5 million over a two-year period to enable Arabs and Israelis to come to the United States to work together in our local communities, and develop ways to expand democracy and the peace process.

With the help of the United Nations and the international community, we must intensify our diplomatic efforts to bring peace to this embattled region. Rest assured, I will continue to support the Palestinian right to national sovereignty while at the same time ensuring the security of Israel. In addition, it is essential that we work toward improving human rights in the region and provide economic support if we are to achieve our political goals.


Israel loses control in Gaza

Israel set itself clear goals when it launched its assault on Gaza. Stop the rocket fire into Israel and close the tunnels that might allow Hamas to infiltrate fighters into Israel. Some 18 days into the offensive, and these goals have not yet been achieved. But that is not the only sign that Israel’s Gaza offensive is going wrong. On the contrary, there are multiple signs that Israel is losing control of the situation:

1. After a slow start, international outrage about the Gaza offensive is building. The international reaction had been relatively muted – perhaps because there are so many other competing horrors in the Middle East. (Some 700 people were killed in just two days fighting in Syria, last week.) As my colleague Roula Khalaf points out, Hamas has also lost crucial political support across the Arab world. The coincidence of the Gaza and Ukraine crises also probably took the pressure off Israel, briefly. But the shelling of the UN school in Gaza yesterday may mark some form of tipping point – with much stronger statements coming from the UN Secretary-General and Gaza dominating the headlines in Europe.

2. Unrest has spread to the West Bank. If the riots last night are repeated, then Israel risks facing a third intifada. The Gazan offensive will then have comprehensively back-fired, by ending a prolonged period of relative calm enjoyed by Israel.

3. The revival of Hamas: At the start of the Gaza offensive, Hamas was in an extremely weak position. It had lost vital support from Egypt and Iran, and enjoyed little sympathy in the west. But by successfully prolonging the fight with Israel – and even briefly all-but closing Ben Gurion airport – Hamas has chalked up some important propaganda victories. If it can get some sort of lifting of the Gaza blockade agreed – as part of the cease-fire negotiations – it will certainly be able to claim some sort of victory.


Israel girds for 'day of rage'

A day after Israeli security forces killed at least two protesters amid a frenzied eruption of anger over the fatal shelling of a United Nations school, Palestinian leaders called for a "day of rage" Friday in the West Bank.

The call for a massive follow-up to what were already some of the largest West Bank protests in years comes as diplomats scrambled to find cease-fire proposal that would satisfy mortal enemies Israel and Hamas and end more than two weeks of violence that has claimed more than 800 lives, most of them civilians.

Israeli police posted additional officers in Jerusalem ahead of the protests, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Twitter. Police had deployed between 3,000 and 4,000 officers to prepare for expected violence, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported.


What body count is Israel looking for this go round? They are at 1000 and counting...

You know Israel has a sweet spot for total number Palestinian deaths. There is a magic number of dead, for Israel, that conveys their toughness, their boldness, their "right to self defense" while not going too far in the eyes of the rest of the world. It's a venn diagram political calculation for Israel. Too many and they are undeniable monsters, approaching genocide. Too few and they are weak and ineffectual.

Regularly being (rightfully) accused of war crimes doesn't slow them down. It's all about that sweet war dead spot. What do you think is Israel's political war dead goal in the current operation?

Because there are a coupe things that are certain. First, a cease fire will come at some point. Second, Israel will not eradicate Hamas or its rockets or its tunnels. In other words, Israel's means will not achieve any real objective it may have. Except for looking tough and serious at home and abroad (by killing a significant number of Palestinians). Of course, they are just further radicalizing the Palestinians and legitimizing Hamas. Just look at Abbas, who has now adopted Hamas' position on lifting the blockade as condition of a cease-fire.

What do you think Israel's war dead number is? 1,000? They'll be there soon. 1,500? Maybe. More?

(Israeli) Airstrike Hits School Sheltering Gaza Civilians -- More War Crimes

An apparent Israeli strike Thursday afternoon on a school sheltering Gaza residents who evacuated their homes killed and injured “multiple” people, according to the local director of the United Nations agency that is operating the shelter.

The Palestinian ministry of health in Gaza said 10 people had been killed and “a large number” wounded at the school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip.

A spokesman for the Israeli military had no immediate information about the event and said he was looking into the matter.

This was the third time that shelters set up in schools have been struck during the current conflict. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is helping Palestinians displaced by the conflict, said that more than 140,000 residents of Gaza were now staying in 83 schools where it runs shelters.

“We’re extremely concerned now that if this trend continues we will see a mass casualty event,” said Robert Turner, the director of Gaza operations for the agency, citing two incidents from the Gaza conflict in 2008-2009. In one, eight people were killed when a shelter was hit; in the other, 40 people were killed in a strike outside a school.


Lawyers demand outside probe of two-hour Arizona execution

Lawyers for a convicted double-murderer whose lethal injection in Arizona dragged on for two hours, while witnesses watched him gasping for breath and attorneys scrambled to halt the process, have called for an outside review of the "horrifically botched execution."

The ordeal in putting Joseph Wood to death on Wednesday at a prison facility southeast of Phoenix marked the third instance this year of a lethal injection gone awry, after mishaps in Ohio and Oklahoma that renewed the U.S. debate over capital punishment.

"He gasped and struggled to breathe for about an hour and 40 minutes," said Dale Baich, one of Wood's lawyers, who watched the execution and tried in vain to stop it. He called for an independent inquiry.

An Arizona Republic journalist who witnessed the event said he counted Wood gasping for air about 660 times before the 55-year-old inmate fell silent.

During that time, defense attorneys took the extraordinary step of filing emergency court petitions seeking to cut short the procedure and resuscitate their client, arguing Wood was being subjected to unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.

But U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy denied the appeal, and Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m. local time, one hour and 57 minutes after the execution had officially begun.


660 gasps. End the death penalty.
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