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Libya's interim government resigns under pressure

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 18:52

Benghazi (Libya) (AFP) - Libya's toothless interim government, led by prime minister Abdullah al-Thani, announced late Thursday it had tendered its resignation to the elected parliament, days after a rival Islamist administration was created.


US considers another relief operation in N. Iraq

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 09:41

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is considering launching a humanitarian relief operation for Shiite Turkmen in northern Iraq who have been under siege for weeks by Islamic State militants, U.S. defense officials said Wednesday.


US says asked Qatar not to pay ransom for hostage

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 16:23
The United States said Monday that it had asked Qatar in advance not to pay a ransom for the release of US hostage Peter Theo Curtis, who was freed by an Islamic rebel group in Syria. Curtis's family said the Qatari government had repeatedly reassured them that it had not won his freedom through a cash payment, as debate mounted over the US policy of refusing to pay ransoms to extremist groups ...

UN rights chief: Crimes against humanity in Iraq

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 06:48

GENEVA (AP) — U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says Islamic State fighters reportedly killed up to 670 prisoners in Mosul and committed other horrific abuses in Iraq that amount to crimes against humanity.


Syrian official warns US: No unilateral airstrikes

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 06:30

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's foreign minister warned the U.S. on Monday not to conduct airstrikes inside Syria against the Islamic State group without Damascus' consent, saying any such attack would be considered a violation of sovereignty and an aggression.


Qatar denies funding extremist Islamic State group

Sun, 08/24/2014 - 06:19

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Gulf nation of Qatar is hitting back at suggestions that it supports the Islamic State extremist group, saying that "determined, collective action" is needed to end sectarian violence gripping Iraq and Syria.


US warns Islamic State 'beyond anything' it has seen

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 03:40

The United States said Thursday that the Islamic State was "beyond anything" it has seen, as US warplanes pressed on with airstrikes against it despite death threats against an American hostage. Pentagon chiefs warned of the dangers of a slick, well-funded operation powered by an "apocalyptic end of days" ideology as the West reeled from the grisly execution of American journalist James Foley. US military leaders said the jihadist group could be eradicated if local Sunni communities reject it and regional powers unite to fight it, but only if the battle is taken into Syria and not just Iraq. Their warnings came after the US military revealed it had carried out a failed mission to resue American hostages inside Syria, reportedly including Foley.


Execution of U.S. journalist reveals the changing business of war coverage

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 00:05

By Jennifer Saba NEW YORK (Reuters) - A chilling video showing the execution of journalist James Foley by Islamist militants marks the second time an American reporter has been beheaded by captors overseas, echoing the murder of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002. While Pearl worked for one of the largest news organizations in the world, Foley was on assignment for GlobalPost, an online news startup with about 28 full-time staffers that is trying to survive as a small, independent outlet. ...


Foley captors' ransom demand revives debate over US no-pay policy (+video)

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 21:47
Islamic State militants had demanded millions of dollars for James Foley's release. While the US government refuses to pay ransoms to kidnappers, some European governments have done so in the past, enriching Al Qaeda and its affiliates.  

ISIL asked $132.5 million for James Foley, says official

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 17:44

WASHINGTON (AP) — The beheading of freelance journalist James Foley has forced a new debate between the longtime U.S. and British refusal to negotiate with terrorists, and Europe and the Persian Gulf's increasing willingness to pay ransoms in a desperate attempt to free citizens. The dilemma: How to save the lives of captives without financing terror groups and encouraging more kidnappings.


Why did US refuse Islamic State ransom demand for James Foley?

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 16:26
The revelation that militants of the Islamic State terrorist organization sought a ransom in exchange for the release of American journalist James Foley is putting a new spotlight on the US government’s strict no-ransom policy. The US has a longtime policy spanning administrations of both major political parties that categorically rules out paying ransom to terrorists for American citizens based ...

The Dynamics Of Demanding Ransom From Nations

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 15:41
Since the release of a video depicting the killing of American journalist James Foley, it has been revealed that the militant group Islamic State demanded millions of dollars for his freedom. Rukmini Callimachi of The New York Times explains how militant groups use ransom demands such as these for funding.

08/21 Links Pt2: ‘Non-kosher’ Islamists and ‘kosher’ ones; Palestinians Should Boycott Hamas

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 13:00
From Ian:
David Horovitz: Netanyahu’s vital message, and his marginal one
“Hamas is ISIS; ISIS is Hamas. They’re the enemies of peace; they’re the enemies of Israel; they’re the enemies of all civilized countries. I believe they’re the enemies of the Palestinians. And I’m not the only one who believes it,” he concluded.
The degree to which the Israeli leadership can impress upon the international community that Hamas is one of the tentacles of Islamist terror along with the likes of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda may well prove critical to the way this conflict, and thus Israel, are perceived in the weeks, months and years ahead.
Netanyahu has clearly internalized the imperative to stress that this is not a war against Gazans, but a war against the terror group that took over Gaza — in the same way that IS seeks to take over Syria and Iraq, and that Al-Qaeda spreads its rapacious territorial and ideological agenda. Critically, for an America stomach-churned by the Foley beheading, and for a Britain belatedly realizing that many of its own citizens are now engaging in Islamist jihad, this places Israel on the front line of the battle against terrorism — challenging the false narratives critics so successfully peddle of obdurate, aggressive Israel as a root cause of that terrorism.Analysis: ‘Non-kosher’ Islamists and ‘kosher’ ones
While some might think that the sudden surge of Islamic State will give Israel a greater degree of understanding in the world – it was indeed telling to hear French President François Hollande on Wednesday talk about convening an international conference to fight the Islamic extremists – this should not be overstated.
In the fight against the Islamic extremists, there will be those in the international community who will want to signal to the world’s Muslims that they have nothing against them. One way to do this might be to differentiate between the bad evil folks, such as Islamic State – which beheads American journalists in front of video cameras – and the good evil folks: Hamas, which “only” executes kidnapped Jewish youth, something some out there find possible to “understand,” because those youths wore kippot and were hitchhiking near a “settlement.”
All those who think that as a result of the Islamic extremists’ killing of Yezidis, and the gruesome beheading of US journalist James Foley, the West will now take a more understanding view of Israel’s battle with Islamic extremist Hamas, should think again. Hamas will always be given leeway by some of the world’s “progressives” because – after all – they are fighting the “Zionist occupation.”The Beheading of James Foley and Other Unintended Consequences
Secretary of State John Kerry followed the President with an equally harsh statement. "There is evil in this world, and we all have come face to face with it once again. Ugly, savage, inexplicable, nihilistic, and valueless evil. ISIL is the face of that evil, a threat to people who want to live in peace, and an ugly insult to the peaceful religion they violate every day with their barbarity."
Both the President and Mr. Kerry took pains to sever ISIS from the religion of Islam. That is not an appropriate distinction for American political figures to make. Ours is a country that is secular in its governance and does not truck in "true religions" or parsing other people's religious beliefs. The organization speaks precisely in Islamic terms and holds itself out to be authentic Islam. Muslims themselves will either accept ISIS as part of their religious family or drum it out.
It is only possible for the United States to declare ISIS, whether part of Islam or not, to be an enemy organization to the United States and to declare our intention to destroy it. If the President now needs to recalibrate our military intervention in Iraq to include the decimation of ISIS, either his earlier promises of limitations will be broken or the chances of American success are slim to none.
Here is another unintended consequence, perhaps the only positive one to emerge: In the President and Secretary's words resides the basis for "recalibrating" on Hamas. They appear to have (belatedly) come to an understanding that the appropriate Western position toward unacceptably aggressive, "evil," behavior, is to not to negotiate with it, plead with it, "reform" it, or buy it off -- but to destroy it.
The terrorist group Hamas also massacres innocents. That Hamas cannot kill as many Israelis as it would like and cannot currently impose its version of Islam on West Bank Palestinians is irrelevant.


James Foley Went Looking to Support Terrorists in Syria, Instead They Cut Off His Head
James Foley was one of a new breed of activists calling themselves journalists. He didn’t travel to report on a story, but to promote an agenda. And the agenda was obvious from his Twitter feed.
Any human life lost is tragic, but a moral individual would have much more empathy for the Syrian Christians who suffered at the hands of Foley’s favorite Jihadists than one of their pet propagandists. For the most Foley only mentioned Syrian Christians when he was promoting the myth that the Sunni Jihadists were actually a secular democracy-loving force that incorporated Christians and Kurds on equal terms.
Foley came to Syria to support the Sunni Islamist rebels against the Syrian government. He was a vehement advocate and while he didn’t necessarily side with any single group, he echoed the one sided narrative rather than telling the truth about the Islamists. His Twitter feed was full of urgings to arm the Jihadists.
Meanwhile he sneered at America’s War on Terror. (h/t Yenta Press)That Porous 'Siege' of the Gaza Strip
In response to continued terrorist infiltration attempts including construction of an elaborate tunnel network, the launching of thousands of mortars and rockets by Hamas and other groups into Israel and pervasive anti-Israel, antisemitic incitement, an Israel siege might make sense. Instead, large volumes of humanitarian aid and consumer goods enter Gaza and tens of thousands of Gazans are admitted to Israel for medical treatment annually.
“While Israel faces a serious threat from terrorists in Gaza, it still allows the supervised movement of people into Israel," the Haifa Diary pointed out. "In the first five months of 2014, approximately 60,000 individuals entered Israel from the Gaza Strip. Many of these were patients and their escorts who received medical treatment in Israel and elsewhere, while large numbers of Gazan businessmen and merchants also visited Israel.”
Meanwhile, diarist Palmer adds, "Gaza's existing resources are systematically abused by Hamas for its own nefarious goals. Enormous amounts of money are used for procuring and producing weapons, training and funding terrorists, building terror infrastructures and for the enrichment of Hamas' leaders. Almost unimaginable quantities of cement were diverted from the construction of housing, schools and hospitals to building an underground city of terror tunnels and bunkers for Hamas members.”
Such is the Israeli “siege” of the Gaza Strip. Under it the territory's Hamas rulers have survived up to now, with cash first from Iran, then Qatar, to arm and training thousands of gunmen. They've acquired technology and material from Iran and Syria for an arsenal (before Operation Protective Edge) of 10,000 or more rockets and missiles. Imported too were building materials for numerous fortifications and tunnels. Simultaneously, jihadis infiltrated from Gaza into Egypt.
In World War II, the Warsaw Ghetto was under siege. So was Stalingrad. The Gaza Strip is subject to something much less. For accuracy's sake--that is, for journalistic precision--call it a partial blockade. Hamas and other Palestinian apologists have reason to repeat the "siege" cliché; reporters have a duty to be skeptical.The end of a dream
The Israeli Left was never so thin and helpless as it was at its peace rally in Rabin Square last Saturday night. A few thousand of the once-400,000-strong peace camp remain. The citizens of Israel have fled in droves from the version of peace presented by journalist Uri Avneri, writers David Grossman and Amos Oz, and former President Shimon Peres. A giant sign held by Israelis who did not show up at the square read "End the Naivete." Most already understood the message Hamas was sending with its rockets.
The rockets once again being fired at our cities from Gaza have proved that the struggle between us and the Palestinians is not about the settlements in Judea and Samaria. The leftist traders in delusions are selling us the 1967 borders as a messianic solution to the bloody conflict. The Palestinian narrative has determined that all of Israel is an illegal settlement that must be eliminated by force. After many years, rocket fragments and the sound of sirens have made residents of metropolitan Tel Aviv realize that the enemy's sights are trained on them more than on Ariel, Emmanuel, or Beit El.
National unity such as we have seen during Operation Protective Edge is unprecedented. This is the unity of a common fate and goal that became a show of strength. It's hard on the Left to see its ideology sinking in a sea of continual Hamas violence and admit out loud that it was wrong. The Left has never excelled at the nobility required to admit a mistake. UN human rights inquiry on Gaza inherently biased
If you ask Canadians to name the world’s worst abuser of human rights, they might name China, a country that reportedly harvests the organs of imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners. They might name Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is a capital offence punishable by stoning. They might name Pakistan, where religious freedom is severely restricted and people are sentenced to death for blasphemy. Most Canadians would be shocked to know that these countries are members of the UN Human Rights Council.
Rather than serving as the world’s foremost institution for the protection and promotion of human rights, the council is routinely hijacked to deflect attention from violations perpetrated by member states and their allies. This abuse has most often manifested itself with a disproportionate focus on Israel, the only country singled out for condemnation as a standing agenda item.Palestinians Should Support Boycotting Hamas, Not Israel
In a column last week for Al Jazeera America, Rafeef Ziadah, an activist with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, used the ongoing Gaza war as a springboard to justify the BDS movement against Israel. But all she succeeded in doing was repeating the disinformation on which the movement relies.
Ziadah writes that the ongoing “massacre” in Gaza must be stopped and, “[t]he latest attacks on Gaza take place with the full complicity of Western governments, which for decades have refused to penalize Israel for its blatant disregard of international law.” She makes no mention of the obvious war crimes committed by Hamas (under the Geneva Conventions, every time Hamas fires a rocket at Israeli civilians and each time it uses human beings to shield its rockets or its jihadis, it is committing a war crime).
Despite this, Ziadah and the Palestinian BDS Movement demand that Western governments, companies, and individuals boycott Israel, divest themselves of Israeli investments, and join in sanctioning Israel because, they say, it is a racist state, an apartheid state, that Jewish religious law sanctions massacres and genocide, and other vile things. But each and every allegation they make is an utter lie, as Herb London and I document in our book, “The BDS War Against Israel.”
*Editor’s Note: Al Jazeera America refused to publish this Op-Ed on its website as a rebuttal to Rafeef Ziadah’s column.How We Can Disarm Hamas
The Obama Administration announced on August 19 that it had finished destroying all of Syria’s known chemical weapons. Those who are concerned about the conflict between Israel and Hamas should be paying close attention, because the Syrian model could be the key to bringing peace to Gaza.
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad did not surrender his chemical weapons out of the goodness of his heart. He agreed to do so only after he was cornered and completely isolated by the international community. The Obama Administration and its allies were (belatedly) threatening military action. Russia was no longer willing to stand with Syria against the world on this issue. Assad realized he had no choice.Enough Hate for Everyone
A few years ago, I was a guest on “Start the Week,” a BBC radio discussion show. Among the other guests was the novelist Eva Figes, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany and a fierce critic of Israel. Israel, she suggested, would have built gas chambers to exterminate the Palestinians but for the fear it would “be found out.”
What astonished me was not simply Ms. Figes’s comment itself, but the fact that I was the only one who challenged her on it. The other guests may well have felt that a Holocaust survivor had some special license to speak harshly about Israel; I certainly don’t see them as anti-Semitic. But in suggesting without a speck of evidence that Israelis had a desire to build gas chambers, Ms. Figes had, for me, given the history of the Holocaust, crossed a line.
What the incident revealed was that many anti-Semitic ideas have become such an acceptable part of the liberal view on Israel that they are barely seen as such anymore. They have become almost invisible.Open letter to Geraldo Rivera from a former soldier in the IDF
In light of these historical facts, which every “dyed in the wool Zionist” should know, what is your basis for contending that Israel’s conflicts will be solved if only Israel left Judea and Samaria (and presumably, by your logic, ceded to Hamas complete control of Gaza’s borders)? Why should any sane Israeli believe that giving the Palestinian Arabs complete military control over Judea, Samaria and Gaza (including all access by land, air and sea) that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Fatah, etc. would not import ever more sophisticated weapons into those territories and then turn those territories into much more lethal terror launching pads than Gaza already is today? To make good on their oft stated goal to destroy the one Jewish State? Wouldn’t that affect your “dyed in the wool” Zionism? Or are you willing to take that risk from the safety of New York City?
Bottom line, either stop repeating Hamas’s lies or stop referring to yourself as a “dyed in the wool Zionist” that would supposedly “die for Israel.” You cannot do both with any credibility, and at a minimum, if Israel and its survival do not matter to you, then as a reporter your credibility should.
From a genuine “dyed in the wool Zionist.”Former Guardian staffer reflects on the media group’s ‘vicious’ anti-Israel bias
It may surprise some readers to learn that C. P. Scott, one of the most famous editors of The Guardian had a strong friendship with Chaim Weizmann. It is believed that friendship played a role in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. In 1948 The Guardian was a supporter of the new State of Israel.
With Alistair Hetherington at the helm, The Guardian‘s favourable view of Israel continued, as illustrated in their Leader of Monday, June 12, 1967 16.44 BST:
Future security is their first concern. They will not give up the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank of the Jordan, or the heights over looking the upper Jordan valley until they know what the Arabs will accept. If there is no peace settlement, will they ever give them up?
Israel wishes to live in peace. She does not want hostile neighbours on her borders, whoever they are, for another hundred or two hundred years. She wants normal trading relations with her neighbours. The offer of generous terms is therefore still worth trying – especially if, through the United Nations and all the Great Powers, Israel’s future frontiers are effectively guaranteed.In 2002 the paper ran a Leader which, in part said, “the Jewish community is right to fear that the repulsive antisemitism… in many Arab countries… can find an alarming echo within some British Muslim communities.” But, that was The Guardian of the past. And now, in 2014 The Guardian breaks all the barriers in stoking the fire of antisemitism that twelve years ago it found quite alarming.BBC content continues to mislead on Gaza casualties
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Centre has to date issued three reports examining the names provided on Hamas casualty lists. In the most recent report we see an example of the type of practice which makes independent verification of casualties essential for any reputable news organization – and in particular one supposedly committed to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.
“The Palestinian Health Ministry’s list included the names of two young boys aged 13 and 15, who were operatives in a Fatah terrorist network by the name of the Ahmed Abu al-Rish Battalions. The two were killed in the same incident. Our investigation revealed that the first 13-year-old “boy” was a 26-year-old operative. On the other hand, the other boy was indeed a 15-year-old terrorist operative. This shows that when boys appear in the Palestinian Health Ministry’s list, the immediate tendency is to classify them as non-involved civilians, but they may actually be operatives involved in terror.”
In addition, the BBC News website continues to promote and amplify statistics provided by UN OCHA. The inaccurate article titled “Gaza conflict: The hundreds who lost their lives” which was discussed here has now appeared prominently on the website’s Middle East page for twelve consecutive days.Hamas denies firing missiles: BBC reports. Hamas claims missile fire: BBC silent
That report underwent considerable changes in the hours after its publication with its later ‘last-first’ headlines being “Israel launches Gaza strikes following rocket fire” and “Gaza conflict: Israel launches strikes after rocket fire” before eventually arriving at the ambiguous “Gaza conflict: Truce ends amid fresh fighting“.
At no point does the article clarify to readers in the BBC’s own words that terrorists in the Gaza Strip violated the ceasefire. Earlier versions of the article include the following statements regarding the missile fire into Israel:Israel Doesn’t Cause Anti-Semitism
Is the rising tide of hatred that is being directed at Jews in Europe and elsewhere the fault of Israel? That’s what many anti-Zionists have been claiming, and now their argument is echoed by the Forward’s J.J. Goldberg who writes in his column that the assumption that only Israelis face the consequences of their government’s policies is now being again proved false. He has a point in that, obviously, Jews everywhere are at risk of attack from those who hate Israel. But the fallacy here is that these anti-Semitic attacks are in any way Israel’s fault.
Goldberg’s main objective in this column is not so much to blame the Jewish state for what is happening to Jews elsewhere—though clearly he intends to wrongly lay some of the responsibility for these outbreaks on the Netanyahu government—as is it is to make a broader point that Israel needs to listen to the Diaspora rather than reject out of hand criticisms of its policies. He believes that Israelis must understand that as the nation state of the Jewish people, what Jerusalem does—whether in terms of war and peace issues or domestic ones that concern the rights of non-Orthodox denominations—has an impact on Jews elsewhere. I think he’s right about that and also right to advocate that Israel must think of its security in global terms that extends to the wellbeing of Jews everywhere.WJC’s Lauder Urges World Leaders to Stand Up for Persecuted Christians
World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder blasted world leaders for their relative silence on the persecution of Christians.
“WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa?” Lauder asked in an Aug. 19 New York Times op-ed.
Lauder criticized the demonstrations in the U.S. and Europe over Israel’s actions in Gaza against the Hamas terrorist organization, while at the same time the “barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.”
Comparing the Islamic State assault through the Middle East to a “Nazi-like wave of terror,” Lauder called out the United Nations, world leaders, and even celebrities and aging rock stars for their relative silence on the plight of Christians.MEMRI: The Islamic State's Treatment Of Christians
Since its seizure of large areas in Iraq and its proclamation of a caliphate, the Islamic State (IS) has stepped up its efforts to enforce the Islamic shari'a in the areas under its control. In Mosul in the Ninawa (Ninveh) Governorate, Iraq's oldest and second-largest city, Christians fled their homes after the IS gave them three days to leave the caliphate's territory. According to the IS, it issued this order after the heads of the Christian community in the city refused a summons to discuss their status and respond to the organization's demand that they either convert to Islam, pay the jizya (poll tax), or "face the sword." The Christians' exodus from the city, which has 13 churches and monasteries, is said to be the first case in Iraq's history where an entire Christian community has fled en masse. Reports also claim that the IS has burned down an ancient church in Mosul, and that its men have seized Christians' property, sometimes with the cooperation of their Muslim neighbors. Other sources report that churches in the city have been converted to mosques.Israel must help the Yazidis
Beyond all this, there should be no concern that helping the Yazidis will open a front against ISIS, because even if a front does not exist directly it already exists in theory: Anyone who does not adhere to the ideology eschewed by ISIS is a target regardless -- Yazidis, Jews, Christians, Shiites or Sunnis. By taking action to help the Yazidis and against ISIS, even if it is only symbolic in nature, Israel will join the most worthy of coalitions: The fight against barbarism, which sentences to death all that are different. These are horrific deaths as well, by beheadings, crucifixions and stoning. To paraphrase the documentary film by Haim Hecht: This is a rare opportunity for just one flight -- for their sake.
This is not merely a humane measure. Israel, as we know, does not have an abundance of friends in the region. Perhaps, as recently alluded to by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that new alliances are taking shape behind the scenes of Operation Protective Edge, we have an opportunity to exhibit a sense of neighborliness, lend our hand, and who knows, maybe make new allies as well. In the same breath Israel would add another important page to its impressive humanitarian record. This is the time to act, and the sooner the better. Muslim Works with Jews to Save Christians in the Middle East
Kasim Hafeez understands hate. Growing up with a father who believed “Hitler was a great man whose one mistake was that he did not kill enough Jews,” the British-born Muslim of Pakistani descent has experienced firsthand how an innocent child becomes an Islamist dedicated to the death and destruction of those who are different.
Hafeez, who intended to become a Jihadist, was “saved” after reading The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz and then taking a trip to the Jewish State to justify his life by proving the Harvard professor wrong.
“I’m standing with my head against the Western Wall, and for me it was like a moment of silence in my own mind,” he said. “I experienced this moment of clarity. I’ve met people of all colors, races and religions who are happy here, who are content here. And for years I’ve spread poison about wanting to murder these people. How wrong have I got it, how much have I messed up!”
Hafeez is now a self-proclaimed “Muslim Zionist” on a mission to tell his story and work to save his Jewish brothers and sisters, as well as all minorities under attack in the Middle East. With the support of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs, Hafeez travels the country telling his story, educating anyone who will listen about the realities the civilized world faces from radical Islam.UN human rights chief Pillay compares U.S. to apartheid South Africa
On August 20, 2014, the outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay compared the United States to apartheid South Africa. This was her response to a question about clashes between police and protesters in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson:
"[L]et me say that coming from apartheid South Africa, I have long experience of how racism and racial discrimination breeds conflict and violence...These scenes are familiar to me, and privately I was thinking that there are many parts of the United States where apartheid is flourishing." Egypt convicts Israeli, Jordanian on spying charges
Egypt's state news agency says a court has convicted an Israeli and a Jordanian of spying on Egyptian officials and security deployments, the Middle East News Agency reported Wednesday.
The alleged Israeli spy, identified by MENA as Ofer Harare, was tried in absentia and was sentenced to life in prison. If he is detained, he would receive a new trial under Egyptian law.
The Jordanian was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to the MENA report. The report identified him as Bashar Abu-Zaid, an engineer who has been detained in Egypt since 2011. Abu-Zaid was convicted of planting communication devices to spy on Egyptian officials and reporting to the Israeli.One Year after Historic Attacks, Egypt Has Yet to Aid Christians
On Aug. 14, 2013, thousands of Muslims began a four-day rampage throughout the country seeking revenge for the military-backed, popular ouster of the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. They attacked anything remotely associated with Christ, Christians or Christianity.
When it was over, Thabet, a well-known Coptic human rights activist, went to survey the damage. He said it was a life-changing experience.
“I visited Minya – it was awful,” he said. “When I got to the Corniche area, I saw how much damage had been done, and I saw the bathroom that had what remained of two people who were burned alive inside.”
A year has passed since the attacks, but Mina and others say that Christians are still struggling to rebuild their lives. After the first day of attacks, then-Defense Minister Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, now the nation’s president, publicly promised that the army would restore all church buildings destroyed in the attacks. Only five of the 32 destroyed church buildings have been rebuilt.
More importantly, Mina and others said, Christians have received no government assistance to replace more than 100 homes, businesses and other personal property lost in the attacks.Watch: Islamic State Forcibly Converts Hundreds of YazidisAri Soffer Thursday, August 21, 2014 More
The Islamic State terrorist group has released a video, purportedly showing hundreds of members of the Yazidi minority sect converting to Islam.
The video was uploaded not long after IS released footage of the beheading of American journalist James Foley, in an act that underlined the brutal methods of the group, formerly known as ISIS.Tehran links role against Islamists to sanctions relief
“If we agree to do something in Iraq, the other side of the negotiations should do something in return,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Zarif as saying.
“All the sanctions that are related to Iran’s nuclear program should be lifted,” he said.
It is the first time that Iran has explicitly linked its readiness to work with the West in Iraq with a lifting of the crippling EU and US sanctions imposed over its nuclear program.Iranian Photographers Face the Lash After Criticising Official's Book
Two photographers in Iran have been sentenced to a total of 75 lashes after criticising an illustrated book published by a local official.
Both men, who are from Qazvin province, were put on trial when Mohammad-Ali Hazrati, the head of the local cultural heritage organisation, felt insulted by the negative reviews the pair had written in separate posts online about his photography book, "Qazvin, the Land of Times Past".
The photographers, Khalil Imami and Abbas Alipour, had criticised the official for using public money in publishing a book they felt lacked artistic merit. Hazrati's book is sponsored by Qazvin's municipality and reportedly distributed for free. He is also cultural adviser to Qazvin's governor.Saudi Grand Mufti: Extremist Jihadi Groups 'Enemy Number One of Islam'
In what is widely being regarded as a strong rebuke of the jihadist terror group Islamic State, Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority, Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, has called fundamentalist Islamism "the number one enemy of Islam" and warned Imams against convincing young men to fight in Syria.
Al Jazeera reports that the comments were published as a statement in the state's Saudi Press Agency. The Grand Mufti declared all jihadist groups apostates and enemies of the true interpretation of Islam: "Extremist and militant ideas and terrorism which spread decay on Earth, destroying human civilisation, are not in any way part of Islam, but are enemy number one of Islam, and Muslims are their first victims."
The Grand Mufti added that imams were encouraged not to tell young men to wage jihad, particularly in turbulent areas like Syria and Iraq.New York Leaders Decry Anti-Semitic 'Knockout Game'
New York dignitaries from the Jewish and African-American communities held a joint press conference on Monday in Crown Heights, at the exact site where a young Jew was violently assaulted last Wednesday in the depraved "knockout game."
The "game," generally "played" by African-American youth and which consists of sucker punching generally visibly Jewish passersby, left 24-year-old student Avrohom Wolosow seriously injured by an out-of-the-blue punch to the face.Nazi-themed pasta dish gets ax
An Italian restaurant in Taiwan which named two of its sausage-filled dishes “Long Live the Nazis” has apologised after it was bombarded with complaints.
Tsao Ya-sin, the 24-year-old manager of the Rockmill restaurant in Banciao, New Taipei City, said she was sorry for her lack of sensitivity when naming the pizza and spaghetti meals containing German sausages.
She said that she had chosen the name to “help customers”.
“When we were deciding on a name for this pasta dish, it never occurred to us that the word Nazi would stir up such controversy,” Tsao told the Wall Street Journal.From the depths of Poland’s soil, Nazi victims reclaimed
Sunday, August 17, in Wizajny, a village in northeastern Poland close to the Lithuanian border, a mass grave of some 2,000 Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust was discovered based on eyewitness testimony taken by one of From the Depths’ cadre of young Polish volunteers.Using borrowed ground-penetrating radar equipment and a rough sketch taken from the elderly witness, the team was able to pinpoint the abandoned grave.Daniels says his volunteers were in tears as they retold the witness’s testimony. The 2,000 Jews were lined up in front of a pit they had dug and shot in the back by the Nazis. One large, strong man, after being shot, didn’t immediately fall and instead looked the murderers in the eyes and said to them, “God will judge you.”Despite Anti-Semitism, Hungarian Camp Shows Signs of Vibrant Jewish Life
The 70-year-old, post-Holocaust taboo of expressing anti-Semitic views started to break down over the last several years in Hungary, where 100,000 Jews live among a population of 1 million. Stoked by the rise of the neo-Nazi political party Jobbik, that flame has been fueled to greater heights during the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas.
But roughly 100 miles from Budapest, on a 17-acre patch of land between a forest and a lake in rural Hungary, lies a camp that for 25 years has given young Jews from central and eastern Europe the strength to be proud of their religion and to shape their communities.
Camp Szarvas, an international Jewish summer camp funded by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, is completing its 25th summer this month. Those involved say that despite the increase in European anti-Semitism, there is a continuing and remarkable resurgence of Jewish life in the area—and much of it starts at Camp Szarvas.Scarlett Johansson’s Kiss With Egyptian Actor Draws Criticism in Arab Media (VIDEO)
A passionate 16-second on-screen kiss between actress Scarlett Johansson and controversial Egyptian actor Amr Waked in “Lucy” drew criticism from Arab media commentators, in no small part due to the Jewish Hollywood star’s past support for Israeli company SodaStream, Al Arabiya reported Wednesday.
Waked has starred in films like “Syriana” and television programs such as the BBC’s “House of Saddam” mini-series in 2008.
Opponents of normalization with Israel slammed his role in the latter, in which he performed with Israeli actor Yigal Naor, with some calling him a “traitor to the Palestinian cause” and “an Israeli agent,” according to the newspaper.Fattal to open new hotel in Ashdod
The tourism industry may have taken a hit this summer with persistent rocket attacks from Gaza but David Fattal, CEO of the 32-strong Fattal hotel chain, says he’s going ahead with plans to open the new Ashdod Leonardo because he believes in Israel as a top travel destination. In a report by Globes, Fattal was quoted as saying the hard-hit city of Ashdod could become the ‘southern Riviera’ in times of peace.
“We believe in Israeli tourism and we will continue to invest here and bring tourists from Israel and abroad to the southern region. Ashdod has one of the most beautiful coastal strips in Israel and in a time of peace can become, like Ashkelon, the southern Riviera,” Fattal told Globes.Israelis design artificial cells that make things
Israeli scientists have created an artificial network of cells that act like the real thing, even performing life’s most basic process — protein synthesis.
The network is made up of cell-like compartments etched onto a biochip and connected by hair-like tubes. Within each pseudo-cell, the scientists put a synthetic cell genome and the protein-translating machinery of E. coli bacteria minus its DNA. They then sat back and watched it manufacture proteins. Oldest metal in Middle East found in Israeli dig
Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a 7,000-year-old copper tool, the oldest metal object yet found in the Middle East, according to a recent study.
The discovery of the tiny awl in the ruins of an ancient village near the Jordanian border pushes back by several hundred years the date peoples of the southern Levant are thought to have started using metal.
Buried with a woman and possibly made of Caucasian copper – now a brilliant turquoise color from oxidation – the awl suggests the village was more important and advanced than previously imagined, say the researchers behind the study.Gamida Cell-Novartis Pharma announce $35 million deal
Gamida Cell, a world leader in stem cell expansion technologies and therapeutic products, recently announced a $35 million investment and option agreement with Novartis Pharma AG that could advance development of stem cell therapy treatments for blood cancers, solid tumors, non-malignant hematological diseases, autoimmune diseases and genetic metabolic diseases.
According to the agreement, Novartis will invest $35 million in Gamida Cell and in return will receive 15 percent equity and an option to fully acquire Gamida Cell. The option is exercisable for a limited period of time following achievement of certain milestones connected to the development of NiCord, as an investigational therapeutic treatment for hematological malignancies such as leukemia and lymphoma.
“The investment and option agreement announced today demonstrates Novartis’ belief in the potential of Gamida Cell’s platform technology, product pipeline and team. Novartis is a leading pharmaceutical company with a declared commitment to further expand and develop its pipeline of cell therapy products. This, combined with the breadth of its resources and experience, positions Novartis perfectly for an alliance with Gamida Cell,” said Gamida Cell president and CEO Dr. Yael Margolin.Israeli Doctor Appointed Head of European Medical Group
"There is no precedent for the importance of this role in Europe Israeli doctor," says Dr. Leonid Eidelman chairman of the Israel Medical Association, Dr. Goldik election of a president of Carmel.
An Israeli doctor has been elected to be President of the European Society of Anesthesiology (ESA) on Wednesday, in what medical officials say is a step forward for Israel-EU relations.
The ESA boasts over 18,000 members from 40 EU countries. The President of the prestigious organization is chosen only through a long elections process - which was held in Stockholm, Sweden this year - and is voted on by 44 representatives.

Foley killers 'wanted $132m ransom'

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 11:53
Islamic State jihadists demanded a $132m (£80m) ransom for the release of US journalist James Foley, his employer Globalpost says.

Official: Militants asked $132.5 million ransom

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 11:28
WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says the Islamic State militants who beheaded American journalist James Foley in Syria had demanded $132.5 million — or 100 million Euros— in ransom for his release.

Foley's captors earlier asked for huge ransom: reports

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 09:29
Islamist militants earlier asked a ransom of over USD 132 million from US journalist James Foley's family and employer but made no demands in their last message before brutally beheading him on camera, according to media reports.

Foley captors' ransom demand revives debate over US no-pay policy

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 07:48
The militant Islamist group that murdered freelance journalist James Foley had demanded a ransom from the US government before his beheading. The New York Times reported recently that ransoms have bankrolled Al Qaeda operations worldwide. According to The New York Times, the self-declared Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) demanded a $100 million ransom ...

Islamic State

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 03:37
Islamic State militants pressed for a ransom before killing journalist James Foley and are threatening to kill three other US hostages if their demands are not met, an American newspaper claims.

ISIS threatened journalist's death, pushed for ransom in emails to family

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 03:14
THE CEO OF GlobalPost, the news agency that employed journalist James Foley, above, says that Islamic militants threatened to kill the journalist in a 'vitriolic' email to his family last week, while earlier missives reportedly contained demands for a multi-million dollar ransom. Special forces tried, failed to rescue American hostages held by ISIS in Syria US ramps up airstrikes in Iraq, weighs ...

Jihadi barbarians demanded $100M ransom for Foley’s life

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 18:05
Before bloodthirsty Islamic State militants beheaded James Wright ­Foley in a gruesome video posted online, the terror thugs demanded a $100 million ransom for the journalist’s safe return, a report...

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