Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ukraine's Economy Is Imploding As Fighting In The East Intensifies

Archive © ITAR-TASS/Anton Tushin

Ukraine’s GDP Fall Quickens By 4.7% -- ITAR-TASS

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has made a worse Ukrainian GDP falling forecast from five to 6.5% in 2014

IEV, July 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s GDP in the second quarter of 2014 has plummeted 4.7% compared the same period in 2013, Ukrainian State Statistics Service said on Wednesday.

The second quarter’s GDP rate went down 2.3% compared with the first quarter with due account of seasonal factor.

The GDP decline has amounted to 1.1% in the first quarter of this year, the republican service said. The country’s GDP slump has deepened by three percent in the first half of 2014, according to preliminary estimates of the Ministry of Economic Development.

Read more ....

More News On Ukraine's Economy

Ukraine economy shrinks faster as conflict takes its toll -- Reuters
Ukraine’s economy contracts 4 times faster in Q2 losing 4.7% -- RT
Ukraine economy falls further into recession -- The Australian
Ukraine GDP Plunges Most Since 2009 on Fighting, Harvest -- Bloomberg

My Comment: All my friends and family in Ukraine are telling me the same thing .... they are telling their kids to leave the country for a better future. And here am I .... living in Canada .... who dreams of one day moving back.

Ukraine Civil War News Updates -- July 30, 2014


Ukraine Conflict: Army Claims Strategic Town In Donetsk -- BBC

The Ukrainian army says it has seized a key town near the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, as fighting rages in the east.

Pro-Russia separatists were driven out of Avdiivka on Wednesday, the army said. The strategic town is near the airport and train station in Donetsk.

Heavy fighting around Donetsk has again prevented international experts from reaching the crash site of flight MH17.

Meanwhile, Russia said new sanctions were "destructive and short-sighted" and would lead to higher energy prices.

Almost two weeks after the Malaysia Airlines jet came down, international monitors were turned back to the city of Donetsk by separatist amid clashes in the area.

Read more ....

Ukraine Civil War News Updates -- July 30, 2014

Kiev's bloody eastern Ukraine campaign LIVE UPDATES -- RT

Belarus to host Ukraine crisis talks -- The Guardian
Belarus to host Ukraine-Russia talks -- Reuters

Ukraine conflict: Army claims strategic town in Donetsk -- BBC
Ukraine army closes in on Donetsk -- Al Jazeera
Ukraine: fighting closes in on rebel-held Donetsk -- The Telegraph
Shells hit residential buildings, park as Kiev’s forces bombard Donetsk -- RT
Ukraine’s National Guard Shelling Residential Areas in Donetsk – Self-Defense Forces -- RIA Novosti
Ukraine: Shelling of rebel-held Donetsk takes toll on residents -- Euronews
Shells hit Donetsk city centre as civilians killed in east Ukraine fighting -- AP
Heavier weapons on both sides leading to more civilian deaths in Ukraine -- AP
More than 1,000 people killed in Ukraine conflict since April - UN -- Irish Times

Russian Troops, Equipment Continue To Mass Along Ukraine Border: Pentagon -- RTT
US Ambassador: Advanced Weapons on Russia-Ukraine Border -- VOA
Russia Sends More Missiles to Ukraine Separatists -- Military.com
Russia supplying air defense system to separatists: Pentagon -- Zee News
Pentagon: Defense system supplied to Ukraine similar to one that downed airliner -- The Hill

Kiev forces fire ballistic missiles into E. Ukraine – US media -- RT
Russia Concerned by Reports of Kiev Using Ballistic Missiles in Eastern Ukraine -- RIA Novosti

Heavy Fighting Prevents International Experts from Accessing MH17 Crash Site -- RIA Novosti
Observers Turned Back from MH17 Crash Site in Ukraine -- VOA
Ukraine official: Rebels lay mines near crash site -- AP
Ukraine claims rebels planted mines near MH17 site -- CNN

Russia Again Calls for Ukraine Talks to Stop Bloodshed – Lavrov -- RIA Novsoti
‘Situation atrocious’: Russian Red Cross says E. Ukraine faces humanitarian catastrophe -- RT
The Belarusians fighting on both sides of the Ukraine conflict -- The Guardian
Europe's Ground Zero: Fairy Tales and Fabrications in Eastern Ukraine -- Christian Neef, Spiegel Online
Paul Toohey meets the Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine — and discusses boxer Kostya Tszyu -- News.com.au

Hamas Military Wing Release Video of Covert Tunnel Raid That Killed Five Israeli Guards



Gaza Crisis: Hamas Military Wing Release Video of Covert Tunnel Raid Which Killed Five IDF Soldiers -- IBTimes

Hamas' military wing has released footage claiming to be its militants entering Israel, via an underground tunnel from the Gaza Strip, and storming an IDF guard post, in an attack which killed five Israeli soldiers.

The unverified video censors the faces and conversations of the militants as they emerge from a tunnel believed to originate in Shejaiya, Gaza and run towards a guard post south of Kibbutz Nahal Oz near Karmi Crossing.

An anti-tank missile and shots are fired. At least one dead IDF soldier is shown. An Israeli rifle captured by the militants is displayed at the end of the video. According to the Times of Israel one Hamas militant also died. The tunnel has reportedly been demolished and the IDF are searching for the gunmen.

Read more ....

Update #1: Hamas' extraordinary propaganda video which claims to show brazen daylight attack on Israeli army watchtower launched from a tunnel with five guards being killed -- Daily Mail
Update #2: Hamas claim attack on Israeli guard post -- Euronews

My Comment: There is going to be retribution for this.

Update: The Israelis have made it clear who they are now going to target .... Israeli Official: We Will ‘Assassinate’ The Leader Of Hamas’ Military Wing -- CBS

Before And After Satellite Images Show The Devastation Of Israel's Bombardment On Gaza

(Click on Image to Enlarge)
Devastation: Using images from before the conflict began and comparing them with ones from July 25, they identified 700 destroyed homes and mosques

Razing Gaza: Before And After Satellite Images Show The True Devastation Of Israel's Bombardment As 700 Homes And Mosques Are Turned To Rubble And 400 Craters Blight The War Zone -- Daily Mail

The obliteration of Gaza from relentless Israeli air strikes and tank shelling was laid bare today in a series of satellite images charting the escalating violence across the region.

Analysis from UN satellite experts reveal how hundreds of buildings have been razed to the ground in a series of attacks that have killed more than 1,300 Palestinians over the last three weeks.

Using images from July 6 - before the conflict began - and comparing them with ones from July 25, they have identified 700 destroyed structures, many of them homes and mosques.

Read more ....

Update #1: Israel-Gaza conflict: The Strip before and after -- The Telegraph
Update #2: Assessing the Damage and Destruction in Gaza -- New York Times
Gaza destruction revealed in UN satellite image

WNU Editor: UNITAR's website is here.

Israel - Hamas War News Updates -- July 30, 2014



Israeli Military Offers 4-Hour Humanitarian Ceasefire In Gaza -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The Israeli military said on Wednesday it would hold fire unilaterally in limited areas of the Gaza Strip for four hours from 3 p.m. (1200 GMT) for humanitarian purposes, an army statement said.

Hamas described the truce as a media stunt because it only applied to some areas.

"IDF (Israel Defence Forces) has authorised a temporary window in the Gaza Strip. The humanitarian window will not apply to the areas in which IDF soldiers are currently operating," the Israeli statement said.

Read more ....

Israel - Hamas War News Updates -- July 30, 2014

Gaza crisis: UNRWA chief says Israeli strike on school 'source of universal shame' - live -- The Guardian
Israel-Gaza conflict - live -- The Telegraph
Israel launches ground incursion in Gaza Strip LIVE UPDATES -- RT
Gaza Blog Live -- Al Jazeera
LIVE UPDATES: Three more IDF soldiers killed in Gaza fighting, bringing total to 56 -- Haaretz

Gaza: at least 19 killed and 90 injured as another UN school is hit -- The Guardian
Israeli fire kills refugees in Gaza UN school -- Al Jazeera
Gaza strike kills 15, wounds 150 -- Washington Post/AP
Israeli Shells Said to Hit School in Gaza, Killing at Least 20 -- NYT
15 Killed in Gaza Market Airstrike as Temporary Cease-Fire Passes -- Time
Gaza conflict: 'Israeli market strike kills 15' -- BBC
Israeli military offers four-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza -- Reuters
Israel Announces Brief Cease-fire After Shelling UN School -- VOA
Gaza conflict: UN accuses Israel over Jabaliya attack -- BBC
Hamas rockets, Israeli airstrikes slice through 'humanitarian window' -- CNN
UN warned Israel SEVENTEEN TIMES that the school in Jabaliya refugee camp where 16 were killed was housing the displaced. -- Daily Mail
Gaza toll passes 1,300 on day 23 of Israeli assault -- The Daily Star/AFP
1,194 Palestinians Killed as Israel Continues Operation Protective Edge -- RIA Novosti
Rockets continue to target South as IDF observes four-hour 'humanitarian pause' in Gaza -- Jerusalem Post
3 IDF soldiers killed in Gaza on Wednesday -- Jerusalem Post
12 soldiers injured in Gaza clashes -- Jerusalem Post
Israel’s Brigadier General Moti Almoz warns of ‘new Gaza locations’ -- The Australian
Peres: Israel has exhausted military option, Abbas's rule in Gaza must be restored -- Jerusalem Post
The possible exit scenarios emerging from Israel-Hamas deadlock -- CTV/AP

World News Briefs -- July 30, 2014



Israel Announces Brief Cease-fire After Shelling UN School -- Voice of America

GAZA CITY — Palestinian officials say Israel has announced a four-hour humanitarian cease-fire in some areas of the Gaza Strip, in the wake of an Israeli tank attack on a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip that killed at least 19 people.

The cease-fire began at 3:00 p.m. local time (1200) Wednesday. Israel authorized the pause in fighting against Hamas militants, saying it would be limited to parts of the densely populated coastal strip.

Hamas continued to fire rockets, saying it would fight on its own terms, not Israel’s, CNN reported from the scene.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Gaza: at least 19 killed and 90 injured as another UN school is hit. Palestinians claim UN school hit, while Israel announces 4-hour cease-fire for parts of Gaza.

Israeli military offers four-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

Peres: Israel has exhausted military option, Abbas's rule in Gaza must be restored.

Rights group: Syria using barrel bombs, defying UN.

U.S. close to sending largest ever Hellfire missile order to Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdish pipeline stopped; tanker in limbo off Texas.

Turkish women protest against politician who said they shouldn't laugh in public.

ASIA

Deadly clashes hit Xinjiang amid sweeping security crackdown. Chinese authorities tighten security in Xinjiang region after surge in violence.

Exclusive: China's Xi reached deal with former leaders to investigate ex-security chief: sources.

Thai junta to keep tight grip after transfer of power.

Satellite imagery suggests future large N. Korean rocket launch.

Scores trapped in India landslide.

India must decide its role in global trade order: Kerry.

Genocide trial begins for aging Khmer Rouge leaders.

AFRICA

Fourth female suicide bomber hits Nigeria's Kano, kills six.

Egyptian media: 3 militants die in car explosion.

At least 24 dead in Guinea rap concert stampede. Guinea concert stampede kills 33.

Temporary ceasefire near Tripoli blaze, more diplomats flee Libya chaos.

France evacuates nationals in Libya.

Ebola outbreak: pan-African airline halts flights to west African countries.

Nigeria tracking 30,000 people at risk of contracting Ebola.

EUROPE

Ukraine conflict: Army claims strategic town in Donetsk.

Observers turned back from MH17 crash site in Ukraine.

EU and US impose new round of sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.

Russia counts cost of new US, EU sanctions. Russia takes defiant stance in face of tough EU and US sanctions.

MH17: vast majority of Russians believe Ukraine downed plane, poll finds.

EU on high alert as Germany agrees to accept Ebola patients. Ebola virus may pose major threat to UK - reports.

Obama names new ambassador to Russia.

AMERICAS

US economic growth speeds up sharply. US economy grows by 4% after harsh winter weather.

Expert: ‘Conflict sharpening tensions’ between American Jews and Palestinians.

El Salvador becomes fifth Latin American country to recall Israel envoy.

Colombian peace talks will fail without government concessions, Farc warns.

Venezuelan officers linked to Colombian cocaine traffickers.

U.S. restricts travel by Venezuelan officials.

Argentine debt talks go down to the wire to avert default.

Fury in poverty-stricken Argentina as Cristina Kirchner is accused of spending £20,000 a day having newspapers delivered to her by Presidential jet.

Sao Paulo told to cut water or risk running out in 100 days.

Chinese cyberattack hits Canada's National Research Council. In rare move, Canada accuses Chinese of trying to hack govt network.

U.S. House votes to condemn Obama for Guantánamo Bergdahl swap.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

How European governments are bankrolling Al Qaeda: Terror organisation has made at least £73million in ransom money secretly paid to free hostages since 2008.

AQAP releases photos of attack on Yemen's military intelligence HQ.

The Islamic State is the newest petrostate.

Shock and terror: Islamic State boasts mass executions in Iraq (GRAPHIC).

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Yukos shareholders: Ready to discuss $50-billion compensation with Russia.

US judge says unable to seize Kurdish oil.

Russia wants Apple, SAP to cooperate against foreign spying.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 30, 2014

The view is shown from a turret of a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle making its way back to Camp Leatherneck after a combat logistics patrol in Afghanistan's Helmand province, July 14, 2014. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alex Roberts

Afghanistan To Cost More Than Marshall Plan, Watchdog Says -- Stars and Stripes

KABUL, Afghanistan — By the time its combat troops depart at the end of 2014, the United States will have appropriated more money trying to fix Afghanistan than it did on the Marshall Plan that helped Europe recover economically after World War II, according to an analysis by a government watchdog.

The comparison in the latest quarterly report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction draws attention to the mixed results of U.S. investments in Afghanistan — $104 billion appropriated since 2002 — versus the success of the Marshall Plan, which is credited with helping to spur the economic revival of Western Europe.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 30, 2014

Questions raised about Afghanistan’s Mobile Strike Force Vehicle fleet -- Washington Post

US Ambassador: Advanced Weapons on Russia-Ukraine Border -- VOA

Armor: More TOWs For Syrian Rebels -- Strategy Page

Israel Deploys Robots to Clear Hamas Tunnels -- Defense Tech

Russia Could Build Mistral-Class Ships on Its Own – Rogozin -- RIA Novosti

Chinese military exercises a 'natural evolution,' US commander says -- Stars and Stripes/Bloomberg

PACOM chief: China spying on RIMPAC brings 'good news' -- Stars and Stripes

PACOM Chief: US Not Worried About Chinese Intel Ship off Hawaiian Coast -- Defense News

Japan practices amphibious landing in Hawaii -- AP

Japan, France Agree on Defense Equipment Cooperation -- Defense News/AFP

Attrition: India Grows Desperate Over Unreliable Russian -- Strategy Page

Google Might Have Accidentally Leaked the Locations of Sensitive Military Bases in India -- Newsweek

'US Looks Forward to Enhance Military-to-Military Ties with India': Top Commander -- NDTV

Emerging Threats Won’t Stop Pacific Pivot: Locklear -- DoD Buzz

'African' stowaway's body found on US military plane raises fears over Ebola virus containment -- Daily Mail

Pentagon Denies 'notion That US Did Nothing' To Help Iraq In Fighting Extremists -- RTT

Dempsey Says Iraq Air Strikes By U.S> Forces Still a Possibility -- Military.com

Some F-35 Flight Restrictions Lifted -- Defense News

U.S. loosens rules for Lockheed F-35, allows faster flight, tighter curves -- Reuters

Analyst: F-35C to Cost $337 Million Apiece in FY15 -- DoD Buzz

General: Air Force already looking ahead to 6th-generation fighter plane -- Stars and Stripes

US Launches Satellites To Spy On Other Countries’ Spacecraft -- Business Insider/Reuters

Feinstein: Interrogations report could be released during recess -- The Hill

Bergdahl could face questioning next week -- The Hill

New VA Secretary McDonald faced with firing VA management -- Stars and Stripes

Middle Eastern firm’s deal to manage U.S. cargo port raises security concerns -- Washington Times

Pentagon: F-22 whistleblower inquiry to finish in August -- Stars and Stripes/Virginian Pilot

Defense Department to oversee Walsh plagiarism probe -- AP

Thank You for Your Service: How One Company Sues Soldiers Worldwide -- Prop Publica

Servicemembers get debt relief after consumer bureau cites predatory lender -- Stars and Stripes

Troops told to refrain from eating, drinking in front of Muslims -- Todd Starnes, FOX News

Murphy's Law: Where MREs Are Really Loved -- Strategy Page

Jesse Ventura awarded $1.8 million in defamation suit -- Stars and Stripes/(Minneapolis) Star Tribune

Phony Navy SEAL buried with military honors -- KIRO-TV

US Military Deaths in Afghanistan at 2,197 -- AP

Is Israel Creating A Buffer Zone In Gaza?


Israel Creates ‘No Man’s Land’ in Gaza, Shrinking Strip by 40 Percent -- Jesse Rosefeld, Daily Beast

To protect itself from Hamas rockets and tunnels, Israel is forcing tens of thousands of people out of their homes, turning their old neighborhoods into a no-man’s land.

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza — This narrow strip of land that used to be called “the Gaza Strip,” already one of the more densely populated places on Earth, is growing dramatically smaller. The Israeli military, relentlessly and methodically, is driving people out of the 3-kilometer (1.8 mile) buffer zone it says it needs to protect against Hamas rockets and tunnels. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the buffer zone eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.

What that means on the ground is scenes of extraordinary devastation in places like the Al Shajaya district approaching Gaza’s eastern frontier, and Beit Hanoun in the north. These were crowded neighborhoods less than three weeks ago. Now they have been literally depopulated, the residents joining more than 160,000 internally displaced people in refuges and makeshift shelters. Apartment blocks are fields of rubble, and as I move through this hostile landscape the phrase that keeps ringing in my head is “scorched earth.”

Read more ....

My Comment: I was afraid of this. Absent an agreement .... a buffer zone will be the result. This is the same policy that Israel employed in southern Lebanon in the 1980s .... they created a buffer zone to keep out Palestinian guerrillas and other militants .... but all that it created was even more war and conflict.

Is Colombia's Peace Talks With FARC About To Collapse?

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos speaks after the signing of agreements at the second day of the 2014 Alianza del Pacifico (Pacific Alliance) political summit in Punta Mita in the Nayarit region, in the West Coast of Mexico, June 20, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez

Colombia President Says 'Demented' FARC Attacks Could End Peace Talks -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos warned on Tuesday that continuing attacks perpetrated by leftist FARC guerrillas, many of which target infrastructure, could bring an end to peace negotiations with the government.

The threat was made weeks after Santos' successful re-election campaign, which made much of agreements he had reached with the rebels on more than half the agenda for peace talks that he initiated in late 2012 to end a half-century of war.

"What we are saying to them is, keep this up and you are playing with fire and this (peace) process can end," Santos said at an industrial event.

Read more ....

More News On Colombia's Peace Talks With FARC Rebels Is On The Verge Of Collapse

Colombian peace talks will fail without government concessions, Farc warns -- The Guardian
Colombia's Buenaventura on alert after 'rebel' attack -- BBC
Colombia’s Most Important Port Without Electricity after FARC Attac -- Latin American Herald Tribune
Officials Blame Colombia Power Outage on Rebels -- AP
Colombia's Marxist ELN rebels to blame for explosions - police -- The Star

Argentina Hours Away From Default

Graffiti in Buenos Aires says, “No to the payment of the debt.” Hedge funds have won court victories demanding full payment on the bonds. Credit Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

Argentina Hours Away From Bond Default -- BBC

Argentina's economy minister is expected to return to the negotiating table on Wednesday in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the country defaulting on its bonds.

Axel Kicillof's talks with "hold-out" investors ended late on Tuesday night in New York without agreement.

They are demanding a full pay-out of $1.3bn (£766m) on the bonds they hold.

A US judge has ruled that the "hold-outs" must be paid by Wednesday night if no deal is agreed.

But thousands of miles away in Buenos Aires, many are sceptical that there can be any agreement.

Read more ....

More News On Argentina Being On The Verge Of Default

As Talks Falter, Bond Default by Argentina Appears Likely -- NYT
Argentina talks go long as debt deadline looms -- USA Today/AP
Argentina is about to choose a sovereign default that could wipe out its foreign reserves -- Quartz
How Argentina’s Default May Trigger $29 Billion in Claims -- Bloomberg
It's the end of Argentina as we know it, and the world economy will be just fine -- Heidi Moore, The Guardian
If Argentina Defaults, Then What? -- Mike Cherney, WSJ
The Economist explains: Why Argentina may default on its debts -- The Economist

Top Pentagon Intelligence Chief: US Less Safe Than Several Years Ago And Al Qaeda's Ideology Is Rapidly Expanding

Defense Intelligence Agency director U.S. Army Lt. General Michael Flynn (Reuters / Gary Cameron)

US Is No Safer After 13 Years Of War, A Top Pentagon Official Says -- Anna Mulrine, CSM

The outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency says that new players on the scene are more radical than Al Qaeda, and the core Al Qaeda ideology has lost none of its potency.

The nation is no safer after 13 years of war, warns a top US military official who leads one of the nation’s largest intelligence organizations.

“We have a whole gang of new actors out there that are far more extreme than Al Qaeda,” says Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which employs some 17,000 American intelligence collectors in 140 countries around the world.

That the United States is no safer – and in some respects may be less safe – even after two wars and trillions of dollars could prove to be disappointing news for Americans, noted the journalist questioning General Flynn at the Aspen Security Forum last week.

Read more ....

More News On The Pentagon's Top Intel Chief Saying That The US Is Less Safe Than Several Years Ago

US Less Safe Than Several Years Ago, Top Intelligence Official Says -- ABC News
DIA Chief: Al Qaeda Ideology Rapidly Expanding -- Washington Free Beacon
DIA Chief: Terrorists, Their Ideology Are 'Exponentially Growing' -- Newsmax

Last Hiroshima Bomb Crew Member Of Enola Gay Dies At 93


Last Crewman Of U.S. Plane That Dropped First Atomic Bomb Is Dead At 93 -- CNN

(CNN) -- Nearly 69 years ago, Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk navigated a U.S. B-29 Superfortress called the Enola Gay over Hiroshima, Japan, on a sunny August day. Once over its target, the Enola Gay unloaded the first atomic bomb dropped in war.

A single bomb blast killed some 140,000 people and helped end World War II -- and pushed the world suddenly into the nuclear era.

On Monday, Van Kirk died of natural causes at the Park Springs retirement community in Stone Mountain, Georgia, according to his eldest daughter Vicki Triplett.

He was 93.

Read more ....

More News On The Last Hiroshima Bomb Crew Member Of Enola Gay Dying At 93

Theodore Van Kirk, 93, Enola Gay Navigator, Dies -- New York Times
Last Hiroshima bomb crew member Theodore VanKirk dies. -- The Australian/AP
Last U.S. crew member of Hiroshima bomber dies - reports -- Reuters
Last surviving Hiroshima bomb crew member dies -- BBC
Theodore Van Kirk, last crew member of Enola Gay, dies in US aged 93 -- The Guardian
Last Survivor of Enola Gay Crew Dies -- VOA

Top U.S. Negotiator: No Firm Deadline On A Nuclear Deal With Iran



U.S. Nuclear Negotiator Declines Setting Deadline On Iran Deal -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The lead U.S. nuclear negotiator declined to give a final deadline on Tuesday for negotiating a final nuclear agreement with Iran, but said participants mean to finish the international talks at the end of the current four-month extension.

"Our intent is absolutely to end this on Nov. 24 in one direction or another. But what I can say to you is we will consult Congress along the way," Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of State for political affairs, said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

Iran and six world powers agreed to extend nuclear talks, and the temporary agreement, by four months after they failed to reach a July 20 deadline for a long-term deal. The deal would gradually lift sanctions, which have crippled Iran's economy, in exchange for curbs on Tehran's atomic program.

Read more ....

More News On The Top U.S. Negotiator Not Committing To A Firm Deadline On A Nuclear Deal With Iran

US: No Commitment to End Date for Iran Nuclear Talks -- VOA
U.S. negotiator refuses to give hard deadline for Iran deal -- CBS/AP
Top U.S. Negotiator Stops Short Of Giving Hard Deadline For Iran Negotiations -- Radio Free Europe
US tells Congress new sanctions could derail Iran deal talks -- Al Monitor
U.S. Lawmakers Demand a Voice in Iran Talks’ Outcome -- Bloomberg Businessweek

Chief U.S. negotiator says Iran talks ‘the most complex negotiation I've ever seen’ -- CNN
U.S. sees "significant", "steady" progress in Iran nuke talks -- Xinhuanet
US sees 'steady' progress in Iran n-talks -- Business Standard

My Comment: After making a splash last year that they now had a firm commitment from Iran on a nuclear deal by the middle of this year .... the U.S. now no longer sees a firm date as being important in the negotiations. Who do they think they are fooling? I have been saying the same thing in this blog for almost 5 years .... another 5 months .... another 5 years .... it is not going to make a difference. As long as Iran's Spiritual Leader is committed to having a nuclear enrichment program .... a nuclear deal will not be worth the paper that it is on.

Update: These U.S. lawmakers are right .... Lawmakers Voice Skepticism on Iran Nuclear Deal -- New York Times

Kidnapping And Ransoming Hostages Has Become Big Business For Al Qaeda

MEMENTOS FROM CAPTIVITY: Items saved by Harald Ickler, a Swede living in Germany, from his 54 days as a hostage in 2003. He was on what he thought would be a four-week adventure vacation when he was kidnapped in the Algerian desert by jihadists who would soon become an official arm of Al Qaeda. Credit Gordon Welters for The New York Times

Ransoming Citizens, Europe Becomes Al Qaeda’s Patron -- New York Times

BAMAKO, Mali — The cash filled three suitcases: 5 million euros.

The German official charged with delivering this cargo arrived here aboard a nearly empty military plane and was whisked away to a secret meeting with the president of Mali, who had offered Europe a face-saving solution to a vexing problem.

Officially, Germany had budgeted the money as humanitarian aid for the poor, landlocked nation of Mali.

In truth, all sides understood that the cash was bound for an obscure group of Islamic extremists who were holding 32 European hostages, according to six senior diplomats directly involved in the exchange.

Read more ....

My Comment: It's always about the money.

Like Vietnam 40 Years Ago, Iraq Has Become The Newest Geopolitical Disaster For The U.S.


Vietnam And Iraq Are Now Inextricably Linked As U.S. Geopolitical Disasters -- Bill Powell, Newsweek

Lance Corporal Victor Lu’s friends in his Marine unit – the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment, part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force that fought in the brutal battle to retake the Iraqi city of Fallujah from insurgents in late 2004 – used to call him “Buddha”. The young Vietnamese-American man was 1.9m tall, a black belt in Ju Si Tang Chinese kung fu and among the physically strongest men in his unit. But the imposing strength and physique belied a gentle, affable nature. Hence the nickname, which Lu liked so much he scribbled it onto the back of his Kevlar vest.

He had grown up in Los Angeles, not far from the University of Southern California, the eldest son of six children born to Nu and Xuong Lu. His parents had fled the country in the wake of the 1975 American withdrawal – and Communist takeover – of that country. Roughly 800,000 Vietnamese left the country from 1975 to 1995, with more than half of them settling in the United States.

Like many other young Americans, he had enlisted in the Marines after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and hoped, after the war, to join the Los Angeles Police Department. Before he went back for his second tour – before the assault on Fallujah – he told a friend he believed deeply in the mission. “We are bringing freedom to people who deserve it.”

Read more ....

My Comment: A sobering essay .... read it all.

Islamic State Releases Video Of Terror And Mass Murder



The Islamic State Killing Fields: Terror Group Releases Horrifying Video Showing Drive-By Shootings, Suicide Bombings And Dozens Of Other Victims Rounded Up And Executed -- Daily Mail

* WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
* Jihadists release video in sick celebration to mark Muslim festival of Eid
* Shows prisoners huddling in trucks before being driven to their deaths
* Film cuts to them lying face down in dirt as they are shot one by one
* Suicide bomber brags about becoming a martyr in truck full of explosives
* Video shows him driving down street before detonating vehicle by building
* Other prisoners are led to jetty where they are shot and tossed in water

In what should be a time of happiness when Muslims mark the end of Ramadan, Islamist militants in Iraq celebrated Eid by releasing a video showing scenes of them carrying out genocide.

The slickly produced footage shows prisoners being rounded up and summarily executed, suicide bombers boasting before blowing up buildings and Iraqis being gunned down in drive-by shootings.

In one of the most shocking passages, terrified prisoners are piled into the back of trucks, where they hold each other and huddle in fear before driven off to their deaths.

The 36-minute film then cuts to dozens of prisoners lying face down on the ground, hands bound behind their backs, waiting to be executed.

Read more ....

More News On The Islamic State Releases Video Of Terror And Mass Murder

Islamic State’s video wages psychological war on Iraq soldiers -- Arab News/Reuters
ISIS video wages psychological war on Iraqi soldiers -- Al Arabiya
Analysis: Islamic State advertises war crimes in video -- Long War Journal
The Islamic State’s most effective wars are waged online -- The National
Jihadists in northern Iraq execute hundreds in Tikrit massacre -- Wire Update

The U.S. And Russia Are Now Waging Economic Warfare

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Russia, U.S. Edge Toward Economic Warfare -- Rob Garver, The Fiscal Times

Russia and the West appear to be moving ever closer to full economic warfare as U.S. and EU leaders prepare new and harsher sanctions on the Russian economy and Russian lawmakers discuss legislation that would give authorities in Moscow the ability to eject companies from Russia if they are headquartered in “aggressor nations” – defined as countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia.

In the nearly two weeks since a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down over Ukraine by Russian-backed separatists, Moscow’s posture toward the neighboring country has become more, rather than less aggressive. U.S. intelligence reports that arms and materiel have continued to flow across the Russian border to separatist units, and that the Russian military has been firing artillery rounds over the border in support of separatist units.

Read more ....

My Comment: The EU is imposing sanctions ... albeit reluctantly. The U.S. has been very aggressive, and will use it's dominance on global banking/financial markets to restrict credit and monies to Russia. It will also punish those countries who do not go along with U.S. sanctions and restrictions. Russia will retaliate by making it difficult for western companies to do business in Russia. Russia will also work with BRIC nations to search for and to develop alternative ways to transfer funds that would undermine the U.S. dollar's position as the world's reserve currency. Russia's growing energy sector will probably limit it's business relations with Western energy companies. In short .... this is going to hurt everybody .... the question that needs to be asked is .... who will be hurt the worse.

Hamas' Attack Tunnels Has Become Israel's Newest Worry



CNN's Wolf Blitzer Goes Into A Hamas Tunnel -- CNN

(CNN) -- The opening was so small that CNN's Wolf Blitzer -- no physical giant -- had to bend down to climb inside one of 30 or so Palestinian tunnels from Gaza to southern Israel.

"I guess the tunnel was built for relatively short people, because if you stand up you're going to hit your head," Blitzer said of the almost two-mile concrete corridor about 45 feet underground where he reported from Monday.

His visit, accompanied by the Israeli military, revealed conditions in the network of tunnels below Gaza that are a key issue in the current violent spasm between Hamas militants in Gaza and Israel.

Originally built to avoid Israeli and Egyptian checkpoints into Gaza, the tunnels have been vital supply lines for Palestinians in Gaza. Now the snaking underground routes increasingly get used for attacks in Israel.

Read more ....


More News On How Hamas is Using Tunnels In It's War Against Israel

Tunnels Lead Right to the Heart of Israeli Fear -- New York Times
Hamas attacks by tunnel rattle Israelis on Gaza border -- CSM
Egypt army destroys 13 more Gaza tunnels -- AFP
Hamas' attack tunnels are transforming war with Israel -- Al Jazeera
General Garner: Tough task destroying Hamas tunnels in Gaza -- FOX News
Israelis say Hamas tunnels remain huge threat -- CBS
IDF: Here's What It Looks Like Inside A Hamas Tunnel -- Business Insider
Hamas' tunnels are powerful weapons in the psychological war in Gaza -- PRI.org
At least 160 children died digging tunnels for Hamas -- Jerusalem Post
Report: Hamas used child labor in tunnel building -- i24 News
Security Sources Say Hamas Planned a Massive ‘Terror Tunnels’ Attack for September 24 -- The Blaze
Stories From The Battlefield: Hamas Tunnels Used To Target Israel’s Kindergartens -- Daily Caller
The Long History Of The Gaza Tunnels -- NPR

CNN: Ukraine Forces Are Now Firing Ballistic Missiles Into Pro-Rebel Parts Of Eastern Ukraine



Kiev Forces Fire Ballistic Missiles Into E. Ukraine – CNN -- RT

In the past two days Kiev’s forces have launched several short-range ballistic missiles into areas in east Ukraine controlled by self-defense forces, CNN reports, citing US government sources.

The move “marks a major escalation” in the Ukrainian crisis, CNN said.

“Three US officials confirmed to me a short time ago that US intelligence over the last 48 hours has monitored the firing of several short-range ballistic missiles from territory controlled by Ukraine government forces into areas controlled by the pro-Russian separatists,” Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, said in a live report.

Short-range ballistic missiles can carry warheads of up to 1,000 pounds (450 kg) and are capable of killing dozens of people at a time, Starr said.

Read more ....

My Comment: CNN's Barbara Starr is surprised that this report is receiving little if any coverage from the US media and/or reaction from the U.S. government ... she should not be. Kiev has made the decision to use everything that it has in it's arsenal to defeat the pro-Russian separatists .... and it is doing so with the full backing of the U.S.. The question that is on my mind is ... what will Russia do in response.