Thursday, July 31, 2014

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- July 31, 2014



Israel Tells Hamas: You Can Keep Your Rockets -- Eli Lake & Josh Rogin, Daily Beast

Israel's prime minister accuses them of being as bad as al Qaeda, but he isn’t trying to run the group out of Gaza. There’s a good reason why.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his military will not stop until it dismantles a labyrinth of tunnels often burrowed under private homes and even beneath Gaza’s mosques. But Netanyahu has not called for destroying the organization that built those tunnels: Hamas—and he won’t, multiple Israeli officials told The Daily Beast. Which raises the question: Why are Israeli forces in Gaza—at the cost of more than 1,300 lives and a rising tide of global condemnation—in the first place?

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- July 31, 2014

Collective Punishment in Gaza -- Rashid Khalidi, New Yorker

Did China Steal Iron Dome From Israel? -- Michael Peck, War Is Boring

As Iraq crisis deepens, veterans wonder: Was it worth it? -- Damiel B. Wood, CSM

The End of the Arab State -- Christopher Hill, Project Syndicate

Libya May Not Be A Case Study in Intervention After All -- Conor Friedersdorf, Defense One

Xi Jinping: The Putin of Asia -- Gordon G. Chang, World Affairs

Beware the Great Clash in Asia: China vs. America Is Getting Dangerous -- Robert Manning, National Interest

The Specter of North Korean ICBMs -- Clint Richards, The Diplomat

What’s going wrong with rebuilding Afghanistan? Inspector general has a list. -- Anna Mulrine, CSM

The United States Has Outspent the Marshall Plan to Rebuild Afghanistan -- Elias Groll, Foreign Policy

Ukraine’s War of Independence: Vladimir Putin has unleashed for -- Lucian Kim, Slate

The Kremlin Floats An Exit Strategy -- Brian Whitmore, Radio Free Europe

The West must prepare for a wounded Putin to become even more aggressive -- Washington Post editorial

We must end this collusion with terror in Colombia -- Seumas Milne, The Guardian

‘The Next 9/11 Kind of Event’ Could Be a Cyberattack -- Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon

Argentina defaults - but isn't using the 'd-word' -- Irene Caselli, CSM

Call Him ‘Poprah’: Pope Francis’s 10 Commandments for a Happy Life -- Asawin Suebsaeng, Daily Beast

World News Briefs -- July 31, 2014 (Evening Edition)



Israel, Hamas Agree On 72-Hour Humanitarian Gaza Ceasefire -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Israel and Islamist militant group Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire in their conflict in the Gaza Strip starting on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday.

The ceasefire will begin at 8 a.m. local time (1.00 a.m. EDT) on Aug. 1, they said in a joint statement. The statement said "forces on the ground will remain in place" during the truce, implying that Israeli ground forces will not withdraw.

U.N. Middle East envoy Robert Serry has received assurances that all parties have agreed to the humanitarian ceasefire, the statement said.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

U.S., U.N. announce deal on Gaza cease-fire.

UN urges respect of its Gaza facilities.

Israel vows to destroy Hamas tunnels. Israel vows to destroy tunnels before truce.

US supplies Israel with bombs amid Gaza blitz.

Israeli polls show overwhelming support for Gaza campaign.

With Mideast in turmoil, Palestinians feel less backing.

Turkey fears ISIL radicalism could spill over from Syria, Iraq.

Iraqi Kurds, battling Islamist threat, press Washington for arms.

Syrian city of Homs shows signs of life amid moonscape of devastation.

Hezbollah man dies on 'jihad duty' in Iraq.

Six judges accused of leading role in Iranian crackdown on free speech.

Iranian President Rouhani: ‘This festering Zionist tumor has opened once again’.

Kurdish oil cargo unloaded at sea, destination a mystery.

ASIA

China urges US not to interfere in sovereignty.

Taiwan gas blast kills 15, injures 243: local media.

India's demands block $1 trillion WTO deal on customs rules.

India, U.S. stress strategic ties but tensions remain.

Asia on alert for Ebola outbreak.

Deadly clashes leave dozens killed, injured in China’s restless Xinjiang.

Afghan vote audit resumes Saturday, but troubles remain.

Thai junta gives security forces majority in interim legislature.

U.S. imposes sanctions on North Korean companies linked to Cuban arms shipment.

India says U.S. snooping 'completely unacceptable'.

AFRICA

US-trained Somali commandos fight Al-Shabab.

U.S. issues travel warnings for three Ebola-hit African countries.

Ebola crisis: WHO to announce $100m emergency response.

Sierra Leone declares emergency as Ebola death toll hits 729.

Sierra Leone declares a public emergency over Ebola and orders troops to quarantine infected areas as doctors say the virus is 'absolutely out of control'.

Town vs. town, faction vs. faction as Libya descends into 'hurricane'.

Libya Islamic militias declare control of Benghazi.

Heavy shelling, clashes resume in Libya's Tripoli. Heavy shelling, clashes resume in Libya's Tripoli.

Thousands flee to Tunisia to escape Libya fighting.

South Sudan talks on interim government delayed.

Kenya charges nine foreigners over 377-kg heroin haul.

African small farmers could be key to ending food insecurity.

EUROPE

Russia's top general says Moscow committed to nuclear missile treaty.

Dutch, Australian experts reach MH17 crash site for 1st time. Foreign investigators reach MH17 crash site in Ukraine.

Ukrainian parliament declines resignation of Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. Ukraine's parliament refuses PM resignation.

Ukraine’s parliament introduces 1.5% military tax.

EU adopts toughest Russian sanctions yet, targets five Russian banks.

Marine Le Pen could knock out Socialists in French president race: poll.

Snowden's temporary asylum status expires in Russia.

Inquiry into death of ex-Russian agent Litvinenko opens in London.

AMERICAS

Boehner warns on unilateral immigration action by Obama.

CIA admits to hacking Senate computers. CIA admits to spying on Senate staffers.

House clears way for lawsuit against Obama.

Argentina blames US, 'incompetent' judge for default. Argentina declared in default by S&P as talks fail.

Frustrated by rebels, Colombia's President calls emergency security meeting.

Venezuela seeks buyer for Citgo Petroleum refinery unit.

Deal to stop migrants from boarding La Bestia train.

China slams Canada for 'irresponsible' hacking accusations.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Norway calls off terror alert, no longer sees imminent Islamist attack.

What does four decades of terrorism in the U.S. look like? (Commentary)

ISIS is using an all-women brigade to enforce sharia law in Syria.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Islamic State's driving force.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

S&P500 index posts worst fall since April; indexes down for July.

US banks braced for large deposit outflows.

Russia ordered to pay $2.5bn to Yukos shareholders.

Adidas scales back in Russia and issues profit warning.

CIA Director Admits That Officers Penetrated Senate Intelligence Computers



CIA Director John Brennan Apologizes For Search Of Senate Computers -- Washington Post

CIA employees improperly searched computers used by Senate investigators involved in a multi-year probe of the agency’s use of harsh interrogation measures on terrorism suspects, according to the findings of an internal agency probe that prompted CIA Director John O. Brennan to apologize to lawmakers this week.

The embarrassing admission by the agency stems from a dispute that erupted in public earlier this year when the CIA and the committee traded accusations of illicit spying and security breaches — allegations that led to an extraordinary feud between Brennan and the Senate panel that oversees his agency.

Read more ....

More News On The CIA Director Admiting That Officers Penetrated Senate Intelligence Computers

CIA Director Apologizes for Hacking Into Senate Computers -- AP
CIA concedes it spied on U.S. Senate investigators, apologizes -- Reuters
C.I.A. Admits Penetrating Senate Intelligence Computers -- New York Times
Investigation Finds CIA Improperly Accessed Senate Computers -- Wall Street Journal
Contradicting earlier claims, CIA admits it improperly accessed Senate computers -- McClatchy News
CIA Director Brennan Apologizes to Senate Leaders for Computer 'Hack' -- NBC
CIA Apologizes for Snooping on Senate Staff Computers -- Time
CIA Hacked Senate Computers -- Newsweek
CIA director apologizes over Senate computer searches -- USA Today
CIA Apologizes for Searching Senate Intel Committee Computers -- ABC News
CIA Chief Apologizes To Sens. Feinstein, Chambliss Over Computer Intrusion -- NPR
CIA admits to spying on Senate -- The Hill
CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers -- Washington Times
The CIA Just Admitted That It Spied on the US Senate -- Vice
CIA: Yes, we did spy on Senate aides’ computers, and we’re sorry -- VOX
CIA Director John Brennan Admits Spies Monitored Senate Computers, Apologizes -- IBTimes
The CIA Just Admitted It Spied On Senate Computers — Senator Calls For Director's Resignation -- Business Insider
Senator: The White House Should Launch a Criminal Probe of the CIA -- The Atlantic
Should Obama Fire His CIA Chief for Misleading the Public About the Senate Spying Scandal? -- David Corn, Mother Jones

BREAKING NEWS: Israel and Hamas Have Agreed To An Unconditional 72-Hour Ceasefire To Begin On Friday Morning

Israeli armoured personnel carriers outside the central Gaza Strip. July 31, 2014. Photo by Reuters

New Gaza Humanitarian Truce 'Agreed By Israel And Hamas' -- BBC

Israel and Hamas have agreed to an unconditional 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza from 08:00 (05:00 GMT) on Friday, the US and UN say.

Since Israel began its offensive in Gaza on 8 July, 1,422 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians, according to Gaza's health ministry.

Fifty-six Israeli soldiers and two civilians have also died.

Israel says its operation in Gaza is designed to defend its population from attacks by Palestinian militants.

Read more ....

More News On Israel and Hamas Agreeing To An Unconditional 72-Hour Ceasefire To Begin On Friday Morning

U.S., U.N. announce deal on Gaza cease-fire -- AP
72-Hour Cease-Fire Announced in Gaza -- New York Times
Israel, Hamas agree to 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire -- Washington post
Israel, Palestinians Agree 3-Day Truce in Gaza, U.S. Says -- Bloomberg
Israel and Hamas agree to 72-hour cease-fire -- USA Today
Gaza crisis: Israel, Hamas agree to 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire -- FOX News
Israel, Hamas agree to unconditional 72-hour ceasefire -- RT

NATO Unprepared To Face A Russian Invasion

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, April 1, 2014. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/Reuters

Nato 'Unprepared' For Possible Russia Attack -- SKY News

Nato troops should maintain a presence in "vulnerable" member states to counter possible threats from Russia, says a UK report.

Nato is badly prepared for a potential attack by Russia on a member state, a parliamentary report has warned.

An influential group of MPs says that the recent conflict in Ukraine has revealed "serious deficiencies" in Nato's preparedness to counter threats.

The report - by the Commons Defence Committee - suggests a "radical reform" is needed.

It suggests that the risk of a conventional military assault by Russia on a Nato member state remains "low".

Read more ...

More News On A British Report That NATO Is Unprepared For A Russian Invasion

NATO Unprepared For Potential Attack by Russia, Although Risk Is Low – Report -- RIA Novosti
'Complacent' NATO Unprepared for Russian Threat: British Lawmakers -- Reuters
Nato 'unprepared' for Russia threat, say MPs -- BBC
Nato 'unprepared' to repel Russian attack, MPs warn -- The Week
UK Lawmakers Urge Gov't To Lead Charge for NATO Changes -- Defense News
Nato unprepared for potential threats from Russia, say MPs -- The Guardian
NATO Needs Shake-Up Amid Russia Threat, U.K. Panel Says -- Bloomberg Businessweek
NATO Ill-Prepared To Face Threat From Russia, U.K. Lawmakers Warn -- WSJ
‘Ukraine should be a wake-up call for NATO and the UK’ – Defence Committee -- RT
British MPs ask NATO to adjust for Russian ambiguous warfare -- Business Standard/AFP
Brits Say Putin Shows NATO Is Useless -- Newsweek
Breedlove: NATO must redefine responses to unconventional threats -- Stars and Stripes
Ukraine crisis: is Nato ready for Russia? -- Charles Crawford, The Telegraph
Is NATO a busted flush? -- David Blackburn, The Spectator

My Comment: I can say this unequivocally .... the polls in Russia have always been consistent .... the biggest fear in Russia is a Third World War. To defend the motherland and fellow Russians .... no problem (there will be wide Russian support) .... to launch and initiate a global war .... a war of choice .... maybe 2% will support it (maybe). But even if Russia made the decision to invade just one member NATO state .... the risk of this becoming a global war are there .... and Russia will end up fighting NATO. There may be some headway .... the Baltics, Ukraine,  parts of Poland .... but any sustainable offensive will peter out .... and the blow-back will be intense and immense. From my perspective .... this British report is just an attempt to get more money for defense budgets and programs.

Ukraine Civil War News Updates -- July 31, 2014


Ukraine Premier Stays On, Envoys Agree On Crash Site Route -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament rejected Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk's resignation on Thursday and finally passed legislation he said was needed to finance an army offensive against a separatist rebellion in the east and avert a national default on its debts.

The assembly's about-turn on laws it refused to back a week earlier offers relief to Kiev's Western backers, who had feared Ukraine was sliding deeper into political chaos and might renege on an international bailout as it heads into an election period.

"There are two pieces of news today. The first is that Argentina has defaulted, and the second is that Ukraine has not defaulted and never will," Yatseniuk told the chamber, making clear he would stay in office.

Read more ....



Ukraine Civil War News Updates -- July 31, 2014

Ukraine MH17: Forensic scientists reach jet crash site -- BBC
Dutch, Australian experts reach MH17 crash site for 1st time -- RT
International Experts Reach Boeing Crash Site in East Ukraine -- RIA Novosti
MH17 investigators finally reach crash site of the doomed jet after Ukraine agrees to 24-hour ceasefire -- Daily Mail
Crash experts reach site of MH17 disaster -- Al Jazeera
Foreign investigators reach MH17 crash site in Ukraine -- The Guardian
Malaysia Airlines MH17: 82% of Russians Believe Ukrainian Military is to Blame for Crash -- IBTimes

Kiev Faces Threat of Donetsk Street Fighting -- WSJ
Food supplies cut to rebel stronghold in east Ukraine -- Reuters
State of siege declared in Donetsk -- ITAR-TASS
Weapons Used by Ukraine's Rebels Point Toward Russian Origins -- Moscow Times/Reuters
Russians hold key posts with Ukraine separatists -- Deutsche Welle
Heated Russia-Ukraine Conflict Continues Despite Sanctions -- Boston.com
Russian ex-police chief Antyufeyev leads Donetsk rebels -- BBC
Photos: Donetsk endures shelling -- Al Jazeera

Kiev Allots $791 Mln for Military Support in East Ukraine -- RIA Novosti
Kiev Spending Almost $6 Mln Daily on Military Operation in Ukraine’s Southeast -- RIA Novosti
Ukraine president urges assembly to amend budget to fund army -- Reuters

Ukraine's Parliament Refuses PM Resignation -- Voice of America
Ukraine blocks premier's resignation, backs laws -- Reuters

Are these selfies proof that Putin IS operating in the Ukraine? Photographs posted by Russian soldier on Instagram 'were taken across the border' -- Daily Mail
Vanity Military Selfies Are Spoiling Russia's Attack in Ukraine -- Global Voices

Rebels to attend talks with Russia in Belarus - source -- Reuters
Ukraine talks in Belarus: 'Don't expect miracles' -- Deutsche Welle
G7 leaders warn of further costs to Russia over Ukraine -- Reuters

A Photo Gallery From Two Photographers On Opposite Sides Of The Israel - Hamas War

A Palestinian firefighter participates in efforts to put out a fire in a van, which witnesses said was hit in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City July 31, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Inside Gaza and Israel: Two Photographers, One War -- Time

As the death toll rises in the war between Israel and Hamas, TIME LightBox profiles two photographers who have spent weeks covering the opposing sides: Andrew Katz interviewed Oliver Weiken of European Pressphoto Agency and Olivier Laurent spoke with Getty Images’ Andrew Burton.

The main border crossing between Israel and Gaza is a long, open-air, fenced corridor that begins in a town called Erez. Since 2007, when the militant group Hamas took control of the coastal enclave half the size of New York City’s five boroughs, Israel has enforced a blockade. Its purpose: to block in Hamas, but it also seals off 1.8 million Palestinians who, in effect, have nowhere to hide when war comes.

For Oliver Weiken, a German photographer based in Tel Aviv, there was “no question” he intended to cover the battle from Gaza. It was just a matter of getting in. He was working the World Cup in Brazil when the fatal abductions of three Israeli teenagers led to an Israeli crackdown on the West Bank and Gaza, followed by an increase in rocket fire from Hamas. The revenge killing of a Palestinian youth exacerbated the situation, with the militant group escalating its attacks and Israel responding with a large-scale military offensive on July 8.

Read more ....

Anonymous Has Taken Down Mossad's Website


Anonymous 'Take Down Mossad Website' Over Gaza Conflict -- Newsweek

The hacktivist group Anonymous have claimed responsibility for disabling a series of Israeli government websites, including that of its national intelligence agency, Mossad, as a show of solidarity for the Palestinian cause in Gaza.

Global access to mossad.gov.il ceased at 00:40 GMT this morning, Russia Today reported. However, a Twitter account associated with the Anonymous hashtag called @AnonymousGlobo reported the Mossad site as “down” much earlier, at 09:50 GMT on 27 July.

The website was still offline at 11:42 GMT today.

Read more ....

Update: Anonymous 'knocks out' Mossad website over Israel’s Gaza offensive -- RT

WNU Editor: The website is here .... and it is still offline.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani: Refers To Israel As A “Festering Zionist Tumor”

Iran's President Hassan Rohani speaks during an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society in New York September 26, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Keith Bedford

Rouhani: ‘This Festering Zionist Tumor Has Opened Once Again’ -- Washington Free Beacon

Iranian president adopts violent rhetoric towards Israel

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at Israel in vitriolic terms on Wednesday, referring to Israel as a “festering Zionist tumor.”

Rouhani, who has been championed by Western media as a moderate reformer who could change Iran’s extremist ways, appears to be adopting a violent tone similar to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has advocated for the complete destruction of Israel in recent days.

“Today, this festering Zionist tumor has opened once again and has turned the land of olives into destruction and blood and littered the land with the body parts of Palestinian children,” Rouhani was quoted as saying in a statement that was translated by the Brookings Institution.

Read more ....

Update:
Iran’s Rouhani: Israel, Islamic State are ‘tumors derived from the same origin’ -- Washington Times

My Comment: And this is the person that the U.S. thinks it can do a nuclear deal with?

Israel - Hamas War News Updates -- July 31, 2014



Is Israel Planning To Widen Its Gaza Offensive? An Extra 16,000 Reservists Are Called Up As Aerial Bombardments Continue -- Daily Mail

* Decision to call-up extra troops comes amid stalled efforts to end the war
* Offensive in Gaza has already claimed the lives of at least 1,360 Palestinians
* Yesterday alone total of 116 Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were killed
* Israel continued offensive this morning, hitting a mosque next to UN school
* Egyptian efforts to broker ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have stalled

Israel is to call up an additional 16,000 military reservists, allowing them to potentially widen the Gaza offensive in a war that has already claimed the lives of at least 1,360 Palestinians and 59 Israelis.

This morning Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Gaza campaign would not end until every tunnel used by Hamas militants to attack Israeli towns or military targets had been destroyed.

The call-up follows another day of intense fighting in the territory, during which tank shells struck a U.N school where civilians were sheltering, and air strikes tore through a crowded shopping area.

Read more ....

Israel - Hamas War News Updates -- July 31, 2014


Gaza crisis: Israel calls up reservists as it maintains offensive - live coverage -- The Guardian
Gaza Blog Live -- Al Jazeera
Times of Israel Live Blog -- Times of Israel
LIVE UPDATES: Eight Israelis wounded by mortar fire near Gaza border; two injured by rocket in Kiryat Gat -- Haaretz
Gaza Live: Kerry says no promise of ceasefire, US remains hopeful -- First Post

Netanyahu vows to complete Gaza tunnels destruction -- Reuters
Israel 'to destroy' Hamas Gaza tunnels - Netanyahu -- BBC
Israel vows to destroy Hamas tunnels -- AP
Israel vows to destroy tunnels before truce -- Al Jazeera
Israel: Tunnels to Be Destroyed, Cease-Fire or Not -- VOA
Israel to destroy Gaza tunnels ‘with or without ceasefire’ -- Financial Times

Another 16,000 Israeli Troops Mobilized for Gaza Operation -- RIA Novosti
Gaza: Israel calls up more reservists after rejecting calls for ceasefire -- The Guardian
Israel calls up 16,000 reservists as Netanyahu vows to destroy Hamas tunnels 'with or without a cease-fire' -- FOX News

Amid the tunnels and the traps of Hamas’s militarized Gaza -- Times of Israel
Hamas firing rockets from civilian areas, claim Israel -- The Telegraph
IDF releases video of Hamas rockets -- Euronews

Gaza toll hits 1,374 on day 24 of conflict -- News International
Quarter of Gaza population displaced, says UN -- BBC
In Gaza: a warning, an airstrike and a family without a home -- Washington Post

Arab states offer little help to Hamas -- UPI
The lonely path of Israel’s military dissenters -- Al Jazeera
Seconds to Scramble: Israelis Run for Cover from Hamas Rockets -- NBC
Israeli polls show overwhelming support for Gaza campaign -- The Guardian
95 percent of Jewish Israelis support the Gaza war -- VOX

Under fire and out of cash, U.N. overwhelmed by Gaza crisis -- Reuters
Top UN Aid Official Urges Daily 'Pauses' in Gaza -- AP
'We have reached breaking point': UN official breaks down on air as the bloody horror of the Gaza conflict take an obvious emotional toll -- Daily Mail
World powers must hold Israel accountable: U.N. rights boss -- Reuters
United Nations secretary general rips Israel for attacking school that sheltered Gaza refugees, killing 20 -- New York Daily News
Palestinians mull war crime charges against Israel -- AP
Israel and Hamas are both accused of war crimes by UN human rights chief, who also condemns the US for funding the Iron Dome while ignoring Gaza -- Daily Mail
UN: Israel, Hamas May Be Guilty of War Crimes -- Voice of America

Gaza UN shelter attack 'totally unacceptable' - White House -- BBC
Pentagon calls on Israel to better protect Gaza civilians; death toll tops 1,300 -- Globe and Mail/AP/Reuters
US restocks Israeli ammo -- The Australian/AFP

Israel, Palestinians locked in vicious circle of Gaza wars -- Mark Heinrich, Reuters
Why the path to an Israeli-Hamas cease-fire is harder this time -- Max Schindler, CSM
Gaza crisis: Israel's military strategy -- BBC
This time, Gaza fighting is 'proxy war' for entire Mideast -- Josh Levs, CNN
12 Signs It’s Time to Get Out of Gaza -- William Saletan, Slate

World News Briefs -- July 31, 2014

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay attends a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 2, 2013.

UN: Israel, Hamas May Be Guilty of War Crimes -- Voice of America

GENEVA — The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, says the targeting of civilian infrastructure or the use of civilian structures for military purposes violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law. She warns both Israel and Hamas may be guilty of war crimes in breaching these humanitarian principles. U.N. figures show civilians, including many children and women, account for 74 percent of the more than 1,200 Palestinians who have been killed. Nearly 60 Israelis have been killed, including two civilians.

Civilians are bearing the brunt of the war in Gaza, which is now into its 24th day.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Israel vows to destroy Hamas tunnels. Israel vows to destroy tunnels before truce.

US supplies Israel with bombs amid Gaza blitz.

Israeli polls show overwhelming support for Gaza campaign.

With Mideast in turmoil, Palestinians feel less backing.

Syrian city of Homs shows signs of life amid moonscape of devastation.

Hezbollah man dies on 'jihad duty' in Iraq.

Six judges accused of leading role in Iranian crackdown on free speech.

Iranian President Rouhani: ‘This festering Zionist tumor has opened once again’.

Kurdish oil cargo unloaded at sea, destination a mystery.

ASIA

Asia on alert for Ebola outbreak.

Deadly clashes leave dozens killed, injured in China’s restless Xinjiang.

Afghan vote audit resumes Saturday, but troubles remain.

Thai junta gives security forces majority in interim legislature.

U.S. imposes sanctions on North Korean companies linked to Cuban arms shipment.

India says U.S. snooping 'completely unacceptable'.

AFRICA

Ebola crisis: WHO to announce $100m emergency response.

Sierra Leone declares emergency as Ebola death toll hits 729.

Sierra Leone declares a public emergency over Ebola and orders troops to quarantine infected areas as doctors say the virus is 'absolutely out of control'.

Heavy shelling, clashes resume in Libya's Tripoli. Heavy shelling, clashes resume in Libya's Tripoli.

Thousands flee to Tunisia to escape Libya fighting.

South Sudan talks on interim government delayed.

Kenya charges nine foreigners over 377-kg heroin haul.

African small farmers could be key to ending food insecurity.

EUROPE

Dutch, Australian experts reach MH17 crash site for 1st time. Foreign investigators reach MH17 crash site in Ukraine.

Ukrainian parliament declines resignation of Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. Ukraine's parliament refuses PM resignation.

Ukraine’s parliament introduces 1.5% military tax.

EU adopts toughest Russian sanctions yet, targets five Russian banks.

Marine Le Pen could knock out Socialists in French president race: poll.

Snowden's temporary asylum status expires in Russia.

Inquiry into death of ex-Russian agent Litvinenko opens in London.

AMERICAS

CIA admits to hacking Senate computers. CIA admits to spying on Senate staffers.

House clears way for lawsuit against Obama.

Argentina blames US, 'incompetent' judge for default. Argentina declared in default by S&P as talks fail.

Frustrated by rebels, Colombia's President calls emergency security meeting.

Venezuela seeks buyer for Citgo Petroleum refinery unit.

Deal to stop migrants from boarding La Bestia train.

China slams Canada for 'irresponsible' hacking accusations.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

What does four decades of terrorism in the U.S. look like? (Commentary)

ISIS is using an all-women brigade to enforce sharia law in Syria.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Islamic State's driving force.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US banks braced for large deposit outflows.

Russia ordered to pay $2.5bn to Yukos shareholders.

Adidas scales back in Russia and issues profit warning.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 31, 2014


NATO Unprepared For Potential Attack by Russia, Although Risk Is Low – Report -- RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, July 31 (RIA Novosti) - NATO is not prepared to deal with a military threat from Russia, although the risk of attack is very low, according to the cross-party Defense Committee of UK lawmakers report.

"The risk of attack by Russia on a NATO Member State, whilst still small, is significant…NATO has been too complacent about the threat from Russia, and it is not well-prepared," Rory Stewart, chair of the cross-party Defense Committee said in a report.

The report suggests that the nature of Russian tactics is changing fast and now includes cyberattacks and information warfare.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 31, 2014

Nato 'unprepared' to repel Russian attack, MPs warn -- The Week

Nato unprepared for potential threats from Russia, say MPs -- The Guardian

NATO Ill-Prepared To Face Threat From Russia, U.K. Lawmakers Warn -- WSJ

Is NATO a busted flush? -- David Blackburn, The Spectator

Vanity Military Selfies Are Spoiling Russia's Attack in Ukraine -- Global Voices

The Taliban ‘waiting game’ in Afghanistan, mapped by media since 2009 -- Washington Post

The lonely path of Israel’s military dissenters -- Al Jazeera

China's Offshore Military Drills Seen as 'a Show Intended For Japan' -- Radio Free Asia

China's military allows foreign reporters to attend monthly news conference for 1st time -- FOX News/AP

China, US, Australia to Hold First Joint Military Drills -- RIA Novosti

Chinese and Russian Radars On Track To See Through U.S. Stealth -- USNI News

Should China Care About the Future of Its Airpower? -- Robert Farley, The Diplomat

Black Sea Fleet’s Proficiency Quintuples in 2014 – Russian Ministry of Defense -- RIA Novosti

The Problem With Russia's Missiles -- Jeffrey Lewis, Foreign Policy

Russia: US claims on nuclear missiles treaty unfounded, we have questions too -- RT

US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty lapsing: Cui bono? -- RT

Drone Industry Annual Spending to Exceed $11 Billion by 2024 - Research Firm -- RIA Novosti

News Analysis: U.S. unlikely to deploy military to Libya after embassy evacuation -- Xinhua

The CIA’s Man in the Libyan Civil War -- Peter Dorrie, War Is Boring

Retired Spies Accuse US of Smearing Russia Over MH17 -- RIA Novosti

Former CIA spy: Putin using Soviet tactics to confuse US -- FOX News

Dem Senators Joining Republicans in Calls for Military Aid to Ukraine -- Washington Free Beacon

Democrats join growing group of lawmakers calling for military aid to Ukraine -- FOX News

U.S. Air Force: Stowaway triggers security review -- AP

US Negotiating New Military Base in Uzbekistan -- RIA Novosti

Vessels returning to Pearl Harbor for conclusion of RIMPAC -- Stars and Stripes/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

GAO: Littoral Combat Ship Too Fat -- Roll Call

F-35B passes wet runway and crosswind tests -- Flight Global

Northrop drone's development cost to Navy increases 25 percent -- Bloomberg

AP EXCLUSIVE: Some ambassadors who knew of brutal CIA interrogations told not to discuss them -- FOX News/AP

White House accidentally leaks post-9/11 CIA torture report findings -- RT

Aegis, Missile Defense and the US Pivot -- Robert Holzer & Scott Truver, The Diplomat

How Virtual Therapy Could Help the Military Fight PTSD -- NBC

The Haqqani Threat to the US-Pakistan D├ętente -- Michael Kugelman, The Diplomat

U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Two North Korean Shipping Companies



U.S. Blacklists North Korea Shipping Firms Over Arms Shipments -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday blacklisted two North Korean shipping firms that it said tried to conceal arms shipments from Cuba to North Korea, following a similar move by the United Nations.

The ship, Chong Chon Gang, was discovered last July near the Panama Canal hiding a large amount of arms, including two MiG-21 jet fighters under 200,000 bags of sugar, which the United States said showed a clear attempt to circumvent U.N. and U.S. sanctions against North Korea.

North Korea is under an array of sanctions for nuclear and ballistic missile tests since 2006 in defiance of global demands to stop.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Imposing Sanctions On Two North Korean Shipping Companies

US Slaps Sanctions on 2 North Korean Shipping Companies -- Defense News/AFP
US puts sanctions on North Korea shipping companies -- Radio Australia
North Korean Firms Involved in Arms Shipment Targeted -- WSJ
U.S. sanctions N. Korea firms over arms transfer from Cuba -- Global Post/Kyodo
US slaps sanctions on two North Korean shipping firms -- Korea Times

My Comment: These sanctions would have an even greater bite if other countries were involved .... unfortunately .... aside from respecting UN sanctions no one else is jumping on this band-wagon.

Is Russia And Germany Holding Secret Talks To End The Ukraine Crisis?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Land For Gas: Merkel And Putin Discussed Secret Deal Could End Ukraine Crisis -- The Independent

Merkel and Putin negotiate to trade Crimea’s sovereignty for guarantees on energy security and trade

Germany and Russia have been working on a secret plan to broker a peaceful solution to end international tensions over the Ukraine.

The Independent can reveal that the peace plan, being worked on by both Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, hinges on two main ambitions: stabilising the borders of Ukraine and providing the financially troubled country with a strong economic boost, particularly a new energy agreement ensuring security of gas supplies.

More controversially, if Ms Merkel’s deal were to be acceptable to the Russians, the international community would need to recognise Crimea’s independence and its annexation by Russia, a move that some members of the United Nations might find difficult to stomach.

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Update #1: Germany and Russia peace plan could end Ukraine crisis -- Belfast Telegraph
Update #2: Germany's 'secret deal with Russia to end violence in Ukraine which would see Crimea officially annexed in exchange for $1billion' -- Daily Mail

My Comment: On paper .... this sounds like a good deal .... but it is not happening that way. To begin .... Germany is denying all reports of a 'land for gas' deal with Putin. But even more worrisome is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin sine the shit-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 .... in short .... no talks there. But even if there was an agreement .... I know that the pro-separatists rebels in eastern Ukraine would never agree to it .... even if it means losing all support from Moscow.

Hat Tip: James for the above link (regular reader and commentator).

Knowing How To Launch A BUK Missile Is Apparently Not That Hard

Russian 9K37 BUK air defense system in 2010. WIKIMEDIA Commons

Need To Learn To Launch A BUK Missile Quick? Look Online. -- Robert Beckhusen, Reuters

No one has admitted responsibility for firing the sophisticated missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing 298 people over Ukraine on July 17. But untrained rebels could probably have done it with a little practice. There are even instructions online, making it possible for nearly anyone who comes into possession of one of these systems — anywhere in the world — to use it.

Washington and Kiev both blame Russian-backed separatists from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic for attacking the plane with a 9k37 BUK missile system. These rebels had bragged about possessing the weapon before the attack.

The BUK is in the upper tier of the world’s antiaircraft weapons. It’s considerably more advanced and has more complicated procedures to fire than point-and-shoot, shoulder-fired missiles. Its missiles can climb to an altitude of 46,000 feet at Mach 3 speeds, packing more than a 154-pound high-explosive warhead.

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My Comment: I have been told that the BUK system also has launch code protections .... was this a problem for the crew who launched this missile to take down MH17 .... apparently not.

Is Russia's Violation Of The INF Treaty A Military Threat?

President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty in the East Room of the White House. 12/8/87. Reagan Library

Does Russian Treaty Violation Pose Military Threat? -- Voice of America

The United States upped the diplomatic pressure this week by saying Russia has violated provisions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty - or INF - a treaty considered to be the cornerstone of the U.S.-Russian nuclear disarmament structure.

This is a serious accusation, analysts say, and one that has roots dating back to the close of the Cold War.

The INF treaty was signed in December 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev. It entered into force in June 1988.

Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, a private research firm, said it was a historic treaty because it eliminated an entire class of weapons

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My Comment: The world has changed a lot since the mid 1980s. It was a historic treaty then .... but sadly missile proliferation and more advanced missiles are now changing the landscape and making that treaty irrelevant.

Update: US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty lapsing: Cui bono? -- RT

British Prime Minister, David Cameron: We Won’t Start World War Three Over Ukraine

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (Reuters/Pascal Rossignol)

Cameron: We Won’t Start World War Three Over Ukraine -- RT

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said Britain was not going to "launch a European war or send the fleet to the Black Sea" over the Ukraine crisis, applying economic pressure instead.

Mr. Cameron, was addressing a Q&A session with staff at the headquarters of United Utilities in Warrington when he said that the West had to stand up to Russia.

The Prime Minister alluded to the lessons the UK learnt dealing with Germany’s aggression in Europe before the first and second world wars.

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Update #1: We won’t start World War III over Ukraine, British Prime Minister David Cameron says -- Times of India
Update #2: David Cameron likens Russia's actions in Ukraine to the aggression against Belgium and Poland that sparked the world wars -- Daily Mail

My Comment: This obsession among European leaders of warning against World War III is starting to get a bit dry.

As The Israel - Hamas War Continues To Rage, The U.S. Resupplies Israel With Munitions

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires towards the Gaza Strip July 28, 2014. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)

U.S. Resupplies Israel With Munitions As Gaza Offensive Rages -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The United States has allowed Israel, waging an offensive in the Gaza Strip, to tap a local U.S. arms stockpile in the past week to resupply it with grenades and mortar rounds, a U.S. defense official said on Thursday.

The munitions were located inside Israel as part of a program managed by the U.S. military and called War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel (WRSA-I), which stores munitions locally for U.S. use that Israel can also access in emergency situations.

Israel, however, did not cite an emergency when it made its latest request about 10 days ago, the defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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More News On The U.S. Resupplying Munitions To Israel

U.S. Has Sold Ammunition to Israel Since Start of Gaza Conflict -- ABC News
US resupplying Israel with ammunition even after condemning shelling of Gaza school -- RT
Despite concerns, US restocks Israel with ammunition -- AFP
US supplies Israel with bombs amid Gaza blitz -- Al Jazeera
US restocks Israel with ammunition as it condemns attack on United Nations school -- Sydney Morning Herald
US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza but restocks Israeli ammunition -- The Guardian
US restocks Israel with ammunition -- SKY News

The Israeli Defense Forces Are Now Targeting Gaza's Infrastructure


Israel’s Operation in Gaza Spreads Beyond Just Tunnels -- Time

The Israeli Defense Forces now have Gaza's infrastructure in their sights

Israeli officials have said in the past week that their main goal in the war against Hamas in Gaza is to destroy as many of what it calls “terror tunnels,” the underground passages built by the militant group that have repeatedly been used to infiltrate Israel. But following a day in which Hamas militants managed to kill 10 Israeli soldiers, Israel responded Tuesday with massive air strikes that seemed aimed at both major infrastructure as well as the visible symbols of Hamas’s power in the Gaza Strip.

In overnight strikes on Monday by aircraft, tanks and navy gunboats, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) attacked 150 targets in Gaza, including the home and office of Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh’s home, the influential Shujaiyeh battalion commander’s home and the Ministry of Finance, as well as al-Aqsa Radio and al-Aqsa Television, two media outlets operated by Hamas. The IDF said it attacked two Hamas command centers and four weapons-storage sites hidden inside mosques and a tunnel Tuesday, before targeting five mosques overnight where it said Hamas had hidden weapons.

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My Comment:
To live in Gaza must be pure hell right now .... this is why this analysis from the Jerusalem Post is probably right. My prediction .... Hamas will probably maintain it's support within Gaza as this conflict drags on .... but months after this war has ended .... and the miserable conditions continue .... who is to say where this support may then be.

Why Are Arab Leaders Silent On The Ongoing Israel - Hamas War

Palestinians gather near the minaret of a mosque that police said was destroyed by an Israeli Air strike in Gaza City July 30, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

Arab Leaders, Viewing Hamas as Worse Than Israel, Stay Silent -- New York Times

CAIRO — Battling Palestinian militants in Gaza two years ago, Israel found itself pressed from all sides by unfriendly Arab neighbors to end the fighting.

Not this time.

After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. That, in turn, may have contributed to the failure of the antagonists to reach a negotiated cease-fire even after more than three weeks of bloodshed.

“The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu,” the prime minister of Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under several presidents.

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My Comment: It's true .... their silence is deafening .... and the Arab street .... even more so.

A Look At The Russian Oligarchs Are Now Being Targeted By Sanctions



EU Blacklists Russian Oligarchs to Pressure Putin -- Bloomberg

Assets of Russian oligarchs Arkady Rotenberg and Yury Kovalchuk were frozen by the European Union in its effort to pressure President Vladimir Putin to stop supporting rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Rotenberg, who helps control SMP Bank and InvestCapitalBank OAO, and Kovalchuk, the biggest shareholder in OAO Bank Rossiya, were among eight people that the EU added yesterday to its blacklist of individuals and organizations being punished for the Ukrainian unrest. Three entities -- Russian National Commercial Bank, weapons maker Almaz-Antey and airline Dobrolet -- also were added, according to the EU’s Official Journal.

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More News On Russian Oligarchs Being targeted For Sanctions

EU Places Sanctions on Russian Oligarchs -- WSJ
Putin's inner circle hit by EU sanctions -- The Telegraph
Russian Oligarchs Rotenberg, Kovalchuk Are Blacklisted by EU -- Bloomberg
EU blacklists three Putin 'cronies' -- EU Observer
EU Sanctions Should Affect Russian Oligarchs - Vice-Chancellor of Germany -- RIA Novsoti
Russian Oligarchs Are Tired of Funding Putin’s Land Grab -- David Francis, Fiscal Times
Why Are These Russia Sanctions Different From All Other Russia Sanctions? -- Joshua Keating, Slate

My Comment: So some of these oligarchs cannot go to their private estates on the French Riviera to vacation this summer .... no big deal for these guys .... they will just go somewhere else. But there will be an impact on the general Russian economy as sanctions start to dry up credit markets. This is going to hurt Russian economic growth .... especially in the energy and financial sectors.

Argentina Declared To Be In Default After Failing To Reach A Debt Agreement



Argentina Declared In Default By S&P As Talks Fail -- Bloomberg

Standard & Poor’s declared Argentina in default after the government missed a deadline for paying interest on $13 billion of restructured bonds.

The South American country failed to get the $539 million payment to bondholders after a U.S. judge ruled that the money couldn’t be distributed unless a group of hedge funds holding defaulted debt also got paid. Argentina, in default for the second time in 13 years, has about $200 billion in foreign-currency debt, including $30 billion of restructured bonds, according to S&P.

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More News On Argentina Being Declared In Default

No deal: Argentina's default is imminent -- CNN
S.&P. Says Argentina Has Defaulted -- NYT
Argentina Teeters on Default as Talks Collapse -- WSJ
Argentina fails to reach debt agreement, default imminent -- Reuters
Argentina’s default: here’s what’s happening -- Reuters
Q. and A.: Exploring What’s Behind the Battle Over Argentina’s Debt -- Peter Eavis and Alexandra Stevenson, NYT
Chronology: Argentina's turbulent history of economic crises -- Reuters
How Argentina Became A Bad Debtor -- Zero Hedge

Israel Has Captured 100 Top Hamas Operatives Since The Start Of This War

On July 23, 2014 Israeli soldiers guard Palestinians captured during a military offensive in the Gaza Strip in this photo obtained by Reuters from the Israeli news website Walla. REUTERS/Walla News

Captured Hamas Operative Reveals Paragliding Attack Plan -- Times of Israel

Terrorist confesses he trained in Malaysia to conduct raids on Israeli civilians from the air; 100 Hamas men captured to date.

A highly trained Hamas operative captured by the IDF during the ongoing military campaign in the Gaza Strip told investigators that he had prepared to carry out a terror attack against Israeli civilians using a paraglider, the Shin Bet security service said Wednesday.

The Hamas detainee, who was recruited to the Islamist terror group in 2007 and joined one of the group’s special units in 2010, had taken part in a weeklong military-style exercise in Malaysia, along with 10 other members of the group, the Shin Bet said in a statement. During the exercise, which included paragliding training, the Hamas squad focused on perfecting raids from the air.

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My Comment: The revelation that Hamas was planning a paragliding attack is (in my opinion) far fetch .... but what caught my attention was the revelation that they were trained in Malaysia. It makes one wonder on who in Malaysia is helping Hamas to plan these attacks.