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"Shot Out of the Sky": 1 American, Multiple Children on Board

Update: Later information shows either 1 American was on board.

Among those on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur which was shot down over the Ukraine, near the town of Grabovo, not far from the Russian border: 9 Britons, 23 Americans (later revised to 1 or 3) and 80 children. All 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers were killed. The passengers were from all over: 154 Dutch, 27 Australians, 38 Malaysians. Also: 11 Indonesians, four Germans, four Belgians, three from the Philippines and one Canadian. Some of those aboard were headed to an AIDS conference in Melbourne.

Here's a reason it's nice to still have print publications: Check out the front page of Friday's Independent, "Shot Out of the Sky." [More...]

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Hamas Rejects Egypt's Proposal for Cease Fire

Egypt proposed a cease-fire plan for Israel and Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted it and will bring it to a vote before the Israeli Security Cabinet in the morning. (Added: The Israeli Security Cabinet has now approved it.) cabinet has approved it.)

Hamas has rejected it.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri already rejected the proposal late Monday night on the grounds that "we are still under occupation and resistance is the right of our people."

Here is the text of Egypt's proposal.

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Israel to Treat Alleged Killers of Palestinian Child as Terrorists

Israel's Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, today said the alleged kidnappers and killers of Palestinian teen, Muhammed Abu Khdeir, believed to be Jewish extremists, will be treated as harshly as Arab terrorists. Six are under arrest for the murder.

“These debased murderers don’t represent the Jewish people or its values, and they must be treated as terrorists,” the defense minister said. “We will not allow Jewish terrorists from our midst to disrupt the fabric of the many different communities in the state of Israel, and to harm innocents just because they are Arabs.” ...“We must battle the perpetrators [of such actions], and those who deploy them, with an iron fist.”

If a Jew kills they will be put to the court like any other criminal. There is no privilege, the law is equal to all and all are equal before the law. On that there is no compromise. We do not distinguish between blood and blood. The murder of a child is reprehensible, regardless of the religion or nationality of the child. It is our responsibility to secure life and to punish those who take it away from others.”

Israeli President Shimon Press said:[More...]

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Who Killed the Prisoners in the Military Convoy in Babil Province?

Bump and Update: We have the answer. As I suggested below on June 23, it was the police and army forces, not ISIS, who killed the inmates being transferred from one prison in Hillah to another. Will the Wall St. Journal and others issue a correction? As of now, the WSJ article still headlines "At Least 81 Iraqis Killed in Sunni Rebel Attack on Convoy" and begins:
Sunni militants brought their campaign against the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki closer to Baghdad on Monday, attacking a police convoy just 20 miles from the center of the capital and triggering a shootout that left at least 81 people dead.

Original Post 6/23

Did major media, in a rush to get out breaking news, publish unreliable reports from one-sided sources and get it backwards? [More...]

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ISIS Holds Parade in Mosul, Encircles Baghdad

ISIS held a victory parade in Mosul today. You can view all the photos here. It was a big turnout, and lasted into the evening. Noticeably absent from the photos: women. I saw one figure that looked like a female in all of them (to the right of the headlights) and given her trench coat and purse and black head scarf, I'm wondering if she wasn't a reporter.

ISIS got whacked by Syrian jets near Al-Qa'im and Rutbah today. They lost some men, including Sheikh Abdul Majeed al Otaibi (@OT_48 on Twitter). They also were able to take two towns south of Baghdad, Iskandariya and Mahmoudiya.

The U.S. has sent its first group of advisors to Iraq. Here's the transcript of the Defense Department briefing.[More...]

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Saudi Arabia Seizes Shipment of 1/2 Ton Cocaine from S.A.

The penalty for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia is death, which it carries out regularly through public beheadings. Either the death penalty is not much of a deterrent, or some people are pretty confident they won't get caught.

The Saudi Government announced today it seized 1/2 ton of cocaine (526 kilograms)at the port of Jeddah on June 7. The drugs were in a shipment of refills of photocopy paper that came from an unspecified country in South America.

Where did the drugs ship from? Ecuador is a possibility. Last week, the foreign minister of Ecuador announced on Twitter that 4 tons of drugs had been seized at the port of Guayaquil, bound for Saudi Arabia. (The police later corrected him and said it was 400 kilos.) In January, 227 kilos were seized en route to Saudi Arabia from Ecuador hidden in pineapples. In April, 600 kilograms were seized en route from Ecuador to Saudi Arabia. hidden in bananas.[More...]

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ISIS Now Heads East Towards Haditha Dam

ISIS has taken over two more border crossings in Western Iraq, Turaibil (with Jordan) and al-Waleed (with Syria).

It now moves on to Haditha and its dam, which has a major hydroelectric power plant. It may also try to take Al-Asad, a large Iraqi air force base and the nearby town of Hit, before moving on to Baghdad.

Obama, in an interview Friday with Face the Nation that was aired today, says the U.S. military can't play "whack a mole" with every new terrorist threat that pops up. [More...]

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ISIS Takes Iraq-Syria Border Towns

Reuters reports ISIS has taken the towns of al-Qaim on the Iraq side of border with Syria and Albukamal, on the Syrian side. ISIS says it has also taken Rawa and Aneh. It may soon have control of the entire Euphrates Valley.

The militants seem to be trying to connect up these two pockets and secure control of the whole Euphrates valley from the Syrian border to Baghdad.

....If the rebels can join up those two areas and take full control in Ramadi, they would be in a position to prepare for an assault on the western approaches to Baghdad, using Falluja as the springboard.

Up next: Haditha and Hit, which are between Aneh and Ramadi. It will then control everything from the Syrian border to Baghdad.

Reading ISIS literature and twitter feeds, it seems what ISIS cares about is tearing down geographical boundaries set long ago by the Sykes-Picot agreement and establishing a unified Islamic state which it refers to as Khilafah or a Caliphate state -- and overthrowing the U.S.- backed Shi'a government in Iraq, which discriminated against the Sunnis and through violence, reduced their numbers.

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ISIS Claims Execution of Judge Who Ordered Saddam Hussein Hanging

ISIS is claiming on Twitter it has executed the Judge who ordered the hanging of Saddam Hussein. It says Khalil Hussein Attia,a Jordanian official has confirmed the news, and said Judge Raouf Abdel-Ramen tried to flee disguised as a dancer.

In 2007, Judge Raouf Abdel-Ramen (aka Rashid Abd al-Rahman ) sought asylum to Great Britain but later canceled his application. In 2008, in Iraq, he condemned the hanging.

Several non-English newspapers are also reporting the claimed execution (here too), as is Wikipedia. He was apparently kidnapped a few days ago.

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ISIS, Inc.

The Financial Times reports that for two years, ISIS has been publishing annual reports (al-Naba) with detailed accounts of its operations -- just like General Motors or any other huge corporation.

It is not a corporation and does not have shareholders, but the military success and brutality of the jihadi group surging through Iraq have been recorded with the level of precision often reserved for company accounts.

ISIS' 400 page 2013 report is filled with statistics of the number and type of attacks it carried out and even the number of people it has converted to its cause. [More....]

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The New World Disorder

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  • Dozens killed in Kenya where Islamic militants set fire to a hotel.
  • Pakistan launches air strikes in North Waziristan, killing 10 militants.
  • Israel conducts air strikes in Gaza on military sites used by Hamas
  • Syria intensifies airstrikes on ISIS bases
  • ISIS takes another Iraqi town, Tal Afar, not far from Mosul.

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Colombia Re-elects President Santos

Bump and Update: Colombia Re-elects President Santos

With 99% of the vote counted, President Juan Manual Santos has won the run-off election, 51% to 45%. Challenger Zuluaga has conceded. Santos even won Bogota this round.

He won Bogota, the nation’s capital, with the largest number of voters, a change from the first round, when he placed third in the first round of the elections. Santos also took the vote in the regions most affected by guerrilla groups, including the Putumayo, Nariño, Cauca and Norte de Santander states.
Thanks to Colombians for rejecting a return to Uribe and right-wing politics. Hopefully, the peace talks with FARC will continue and reach fruition. [More...]

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FARC and Colombian Government Agree to Truth Commission, Recognition of Victims

With the Colombia run-off election 8 days away, FARC and the Government of Colombia reached another milestone in the Havana peace talks.

Both sides agree the victims of the violence in Colombia must be heard. A truth commission will be set up, which FARC refers to as the "Commission of Clarification of the Origen and the Truth of the History of the Conflict." FARC has also declared a cease-fire for the next three weeks, through the election.

Here is the text of the agreement (English). Here is FARC's press release (English.)

Colombia Reports uses the headline "FARC formally admits responsibility for victims of Colombia conflict" but I think that's misleading. FARC has not admitted responsibility for the atrocities to the victims. In fact, the agreement says at this stage, the parties will not be exchanging blame. Recognizing there are victims and that the victims have a right to be heard and learn the truth is not the same as an admission of guilt or responsibility for what befell them. FARC and the Government have always claimed the other is responsible. The agreement says: [More...]

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Subcomandante Marcos Steps Down as Voice of Zapatistas

Subcomandante Marcos, the charismatic leader of Mexico's Zapatistas rebels for the past 20 years, has announced he will no longer speak for the group and will no longer exist as Subcomandante Marcos. (The Zapatistas are rebels fighting for the rights of indigenous people in Chiapas, Mexico's poorest state.) He will now be known as Subcomandante Galeano.

I've been a longtime fan of Marcos. He is a prolific writer -- 21 books and more than 250 essays and articles. I especially recommend Our Word is Our Weapon: Selected Writings by Subcomandante Marcos.

In a 10 page communique posted on the EZLN website (in Spanish), Marcos says he no longer exists and has never existed -- that his persona is a hologram created by the group to advance its goals, but that the persona of Marcos has now become a distraction. The group is changing, a new generation is coming in, and it was collectively decided to end the persona of Marcos. He also says rumors of his death and illness are untrue, just a false story put out by the group, in an attempt to separate the group from his persona. Vice has posted the audio of his 55 minute announcement, in Spanish. [More...]

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Colombia: Early Returns Signal Run-Off Election

With 96 percent of polling stations in Colombia reporting, President Juan Manuel Santos has 25.5 percent of the vote to right-wing challenger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga's 29.2%. That means a run-off election will be held next month since neither candidate got 50%.

Zuluaga is a protege of former President Aliviro Uribe. He has opposed the FARC peace talks, and before slightly softening his position in recent days, said he would shut them down.

Santos has been a big promoter of the peace talks. Like Zuluaga, at one time he worked in Uribe's cabinet. Santos and Uribe have since had a falling out, thus, Uribe's support of Zuluaga. [More....]

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