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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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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 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.
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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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- 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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Bump and Update: Colombia Re-elects President Santos
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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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.
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, 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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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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The peace talks between FARC and Colombia reached a new milestone this week, with a partial agreement on drug trafficking.
Under the agreement, FARC pledges to end its involvement in the drug trade and Colombia promises to develop a strategy to combat corruption associated with drug trafficking and to stop eradicating farmer's coca plants and instead focus on alternative crop programs (except where communities refuse to participate in alternative programs or violate the agreement.[More...]
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Uruguay President José Mujica tells Fox News that Uruguay's new law legalizing marijuana is better than Colorado's new law. Why? Because in Uruguay, they regulate users, not just sellers. Under their new law, pot-smokers will be treated like cows.
“Right now, every cow, 13 million of them, are registered here,” Mujica said. “We know where they were raised, what they eat – we’re the only country that does that,” he said. “We are going to apply a process just like that to marijuana laws.”
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The government will control every facet -- including setting the price. Pot will initially cost around $1.00 per gram, in an effort to freeze out the black market. The government agency calling the shots is called the Institute for Regulation and Control.
Today we know that trying to eliminate marijuana has not been an effective measure and has only caused more problems. The marijuana market already exists and is controlled by drug trafficking. [More...]
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In what reads like a reality-based version of Mundo Fox's El Capo 3, the Mexican newspaper El Spectador has obtained a 109 page document submitted to Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos through his chief campaign strategist, J.J. Rendon, proposing to end the cartels and world drug trafficking. (Google translated version here.) The 2011 document is called "Agenda for solving the problem of drug trafficking and the violence it generates." The document begins:
"Celebrating its first 10 months of the new government, Colombian society has high expectations for their future, and one of his most repeated yearnings for decades is that it can definitively eradicate the drug problem and violence it generates. National and international conditions are suitable to develop an agenda for tackling the problem of drug trafficking, with ranges not only in the country but in the region and throughout the Western Hemisphere. "
With elections in Colombia just weeks away, J.J. Rendon has just resigned over accusations by trafficker Javier Calle Serna that Rendon was paid $12 million to submit the plan to the President. [More...]
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A Sharia court in Bauchi City, Nigeria sentenced four young men to 15 lashes with a horsewhip for having gay sex. The floggings were conducted publicly in the courtroom after trial and sentencing at a secret hearing. In addition, the youths were order to pay a fine, and if they can't afford it, they will have to spend a year in jail.
[A Human Rights activist] said the men, aged between 20 and 22, should not have been convicted because their confessions had been forced by law agents who beat them. She said they had to prostrate themselves on the floor of the court to be whipped on their backsides.
In January, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill into law banning gay marriage and same-sex unions. It also reinforced criminal penalties for homosexuality and granted federal support to the Sharia authorities to enforce anti-gay laws. [More...]
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Video Update here.
Update: Schapelle Corby has been released. She's in this photo with the black and white plaid head covering. Some video here. Here's a picture of the media scramble as she left. She was whisked into a prison bus, where she will be taken to the prosecutor's office to be processed, a 40 minute drive, and then to the Bali Corrections Board office, a thirty minute drive, where she'll be met by her parole officer and then released.
Schappelle Corby will be released today from Bali's Keborkhan prison. The head of the prison said the release papers have arrived and she will definitely be leaving through the front door of the prison today.
9 years, 4 months and 2 days.
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