Jerusalem, Israel, And The Palestinian People

Jerusalem, Israel, And The Palestinian People

 

So, tomorrow December the 6th President Trump is supposed to say whether or not he is going to officially recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and if the U.S. is going to move our Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So, this article this evening is simply my thoughts on this issue, I am not consulting other writers nor any pre-written documents. I am only going by articles that I have already read during my lifetime, up to this point in time. I know that no matter what I say, I am going to get a lot of people angry simply because I don’t agree with them.

Today the President of Turkey, Mr. Erdogan threatened to cut relations with Israel if Mr. Trump goes ahead with the Jerusalem Capital issue. To me, this is a fraudulent concept, if Mr. Erdogan wants to cut relations with any country it should be the U.S. not Israel. Israel cannot control what comes out of the mouth of Donald Trump, no one can. It is said that the whole of the ‘Arab League’ will cause many deaths if Mr. Trump goes through with this announcement. These type of threats help show the ‘low road’ of the Islamic leaders, not their intelligence. It is also because of threats like this that would cause a narcissists like Trump to not bow down to such a threat because it would/will make him look weak and in this case, that is actually true.

Now, for my personal thoughts on how to make the Jerusalem Capital issue work for all sides, yet at the same time not make any side totally happy. Isn’t that pretty much what the definition of what a compromise is? My idea is for Jerusalem to be declared the Capital of Palestine, all of Palestine. This would encompass all of Palestine and all the people of Palestine, Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, the people of Gaza and of the West Bank. This way it is everyone’s Capital. All people of this region, no matter if they are Israeli Jews or residents of the ‘so called’ Palestinians of the West Bank can prove that they are capable of recognizing each others right to exist, in peace with each other.

Because of the current security issues raised by terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and the PLO plus the fact that Jerusalem was the Capital of Israel at least 1,600 years before Mohammad was even born, Israel would have to have control of the security issues within all of the city. Maybe in time these folks who are hell-bent on violence will mature into civilized human beings and the ‘walls’ of security can be let down. Israel on their side would need to allow the Palestinian people to have such things as their Embassy in Eastern Jerusalem once there is a two State agreement in place. All sides of this issue should be allowed to call Jerusalem their Capital. Jerusalem is the ‘City of God’ and it should be able to be an ‘International’ City. Yet the only way for this to come about is if groups like Hamas who refuse the existence of the State of Israel to lay down all of their weapons. Israel can not allow its citizens to continue to be fodder to murderers, so until all Islamic groups in the Palestine region agree to commit no violence, there can not be a safe and secure two State compromise.

Another reality is that even though Mr. Trump seems to think that he decides if Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel, he actually has no say so in the matter. Jerusalem is and has been the Capital of the people of Israel for more than 2,600 years. It is God who decided that Jerusalem is His City. The world can call Tel Aviv Israels Capital, but it has never been Israels Capital, Jerusalem is. But there is no reason that all of the people of Palestine can not call Jerusalem their Capital as it is the Capital of all of Palestine.

 

 

Taiwan should model itself on western welfare states?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘FOCUS TAIWAN’ AND THE BLOG OF ANDY TAI)

 

BACK TO LIST

Taiwan should model itself on western welfare states: democracy pioneer

2017/11/19 22:44:33

Taipei, Nov. 19 (CNA) Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), the key figure that triggered the “Zhongli Incident” against ballot-rigging in 1977, hopes Taiwan can be a western Europe-style welfare state.

He expressed his sincere hope as he recently marked the 40 anniversary of Taiwan’s first mass demonstration since martial law was imposed in 1949.

Then a rising star in the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), Hsu broke ranks to run for magistrate of then Taoyuan County amid burgeoning opposition to one-party rule.

On the election day on Nov. 19, a large-scale riot broke out in Zhongli of Taoyuan after a voter reported witnessing the KMT rigging the ballot, culminating in the protesters setting fire on the Zhongli police station.

The KMT authorities responded to the protest with brutal force, resulting in two civilian deaths. The incident that eventually forced the KMT to accept the victory of Hsu was often seen as a “watershed” in Taiwan’s democratic development.

In a recent interview with the CNA, Hsu said that after three decades of efforts, Taiwan is now a democracy that enjoys freedom and openness and what it should pursue next is “economic democracy” because “the essence of democracy is equality.”

Taiwan should set its sights on establishing a social welfare system like those adopted in Western Europe countries to develop a humane and just society based on the principles of equal opportunity and progressive value, Hsu said.

To achieve the goals, the Democratic Progressive Party administration and whoever is in power in the future should provide adequate care for people through social welfare programs based on the respect for human rights, he added.

Turning to cross-strait relations, Hsu, who serves as chairman of Foundation on Asia-Pacific Peace Studies, a government-affiliated think tank, said that making Taiwan better in terms of the wellbeing of the people and the value it embraces, would “exert a positive influence on the development of China.”

Sponsored by the KMT to pursue a master degree in the U.K., Hsu said he was deeply influenced by the student movements around the world in the 1960s when he studied political philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1967 to 1969.

Being able to witness firsthand the civil rights movements and the fight for democracy, freedom and human rights made him feel ashamed of himself and forced him to do things for Taiwan and his generation, Hsu said.

“I was lucky to see that the hard work so many people had done has eventually come to fruition 40 years later,” Hsu added.

Hsu said that he was drawn into the study of the European common market, the predecessor of the European Union set up in 1957 by France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, when he studied in the U.K. — when whether the U.K. should join the market was heatedly debated.

Hsu said that his views on cross-strait relations between Taiwan and China can also be traced back to what he had learned from the history of Europe.

“Is the problem between Taiwan and China more difficult to solve than the feud between France and Germany? No, it’s not. Then why can’t Taiwan and China collaborate with each other to make the world more equitable and humane?” Hsu said.

(By Wu Jui-chi, Fan Cheng-hsiang and Shih Hsiu-chuan)
Enditem/sc

 

 

Texas Border Patrol Agent Killed, His Partner In Hospital In Serious Condition

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

Border agent dies after being injured in Texas

Border Patrol spokesmen said they could not provide any details Sunday on what caused the agent’s injuries or what led to them. Spokesman Carlos Diaz says the FBI has taken over the investigation.

Another spokesman, Douglas Mosier, says that 36-year-old agent Rogelio Martinez and his partner were transported to a local hospital, where Martinez died. Martinez’s partner is in serious condition. His name wasn’t released. Martinez had been a border agent since August 2013 and was from El Paso.

Border Patrol records show that Big Bend accounted for about 1 percent of the more than 61,000 apprehensions its agents made along the Southwest border between October 2016 and May 2017. The region’s mountains and the Rio Grande make it a difficult area for people to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico.

The Border Patrol website lists 38 agents who have died since late 2003, some attacked while working along the border, and other fatalities in traffic accidents. It lists one other agent death in the line of duty this year.

NSA and the War on Our Privacy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

NSA and the War on Our Privacy

Saturday, 18 November, 2017 – 08:00

Since the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures began showing up in the Washington Post and the Guardian, the political debate over the American surveillance state has been stuck in the 20th century.

The public has feared a secretive, all-seeing eye, a vast bureaucracy that could peer into our online lives and track the numbers our smartphones dialed. Privacy as we knew it was dead. The era of Big Brother was here.

President Barack Obama responded to the Snowden leaks by commissioning a blue-ribbon panel that ended up concluding the way the National Security Agency did business often trampled on legitimate civil liberties concerns. The government did not need to store our metadata or the numbers, times and dates of our phone calls.

It turns out though that the questions prompted by Snowden were only part of the story. A recent expose from the New York Times tells a very different, and more frightening, tale. In this case, the proper analogy is not Big Brother, but an outbreak. A shadowy network of hackers, known as the shadow brokers, stole the NSA’s toolbox of cyber weapons it had used to peer into the computers of our adversaries. This network then offered subscribers the fruits of powerful cyber weapons that the U.S. government was never supposed to even acknowledge. The virus is no longer confined to the lab. It’s out in the wild.

And while the cyber weapons appear to be dated from 2013, the extent of the damage is still being assessed. The Times reports that the NSA still hasn’t found the culprits. NSA cyber warriors are subjected to polygraphs, and morale at the agency is low. Was there a mole? Was there a hack? The world’s greatest surveillance organization still doesn’t know.

Aside from puncturing the aura of the NSA as an all-seeing eye, the Times story also shows that today the greatest threat to our privacy is not an organization with a monopoly of surveillance power, but rather the disaggregation of surveillance power. It is not the citizen versus the state. Rather it is a Hobbesian state of nature, a war of all against all. Today, foreign governments and private hackers can use the same tools we all feared the U.S. government would use.

It’s enough to make you wish for a simpler time when the greatest threat to our privacy came from our own government.

Bloomberg

The History Of The CIA

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘CIA FACTBOOK’)

 

History of the CIA

CIA’s Family Tree

CIA Family Tree

Like all government agencies, the CIA was not created overnight and functioning at full capacity the following morning. In fact, there were various renditions of an intelligence agency for 6 years prior to the formal establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency. At the beginning of World War II America’s first peacetime, non-departmental intelligence organization was created. That organization moved and morphed and changed names and ownership, was dissected and dismantled before President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 creating a permanent Central Intelligence Agency.

Though our directives have changed and generations have turned, our goal to further US national security objectives remains the same. The Agency embraces its roots and celebrates the path that led to the making of America’s premier foreign intelligence agency. As we look to the future we glance at our past to trace the lineage of the CIA to its very beginnings, and to reflect on the different phases it went through, culminating in the creation of the CIA.

* * * *

Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI)

Established 11 July 1941, Duration: 337 Days

When World War II started in 1939 the State Department, Army, Navy and FBI were randomly collecting intelligence with no direction or coordination. Nor were these agencies designed to collect the strategic and economic intelligence that was needed during WWII. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, desperate for solid intelligence, was frustrated by the piecemeal, stove-piped information these agencies were providing him. To solve the problem, he created the Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI) to streamline the collection, organization, and dissemination of the intelligence that the government agencies collected. The COI was also created to conduct unconventional warfare. Roosevelt appointed World War I hero, General William “Wild Bill” Donovan, to lead the organization with a $10 million budget and 600 staffers.

William Donovan
General William “Wild Bill” Donovan

COI’s first operation was debriefing refugees in New York City who had fled war-torn Europe. Additionally, COI gathered intelligence overseas and worked closely with the British in London to gain information, training, and experience from their intelligence organizations.

As the war progressed Donovan came to the realization that he needed to move his budding organization under the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to ensure the support of the military. President Roosevelt agreed, but, he wanted to keep a portion of COI’s elements out of military hands. Roosevelt moved white propaganda, along with half of the COI’s staff, to the Office of War Information.

What was left of COI after the transition became the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) on June 13, 1942. The name change fulfilled Donovan’s wish for a title that reflected the importance of ‘strategy’ in intelligence gathering and clandestine operations.

* * * *

Office of Strategic Services (OSS)

Established 13 June 1942, Duration: 3 years, 3 months

The OSS had a mandate to collect and analyze strategic information requested by the JCS and to conduct unconventional and paramilitary operations. To do this Donovan sent OSS personnel to North Africa, Europe, China, Burma, and India. However, the OSS never received complete jurisdiction over all foreign intelligence activities. The Department of State and the armed services arranged a Presidential decree that effectively banned most of OSS and several other agencies from acquiring and decoding the war’s most important intelligence intercepts. General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz kept OSS from contributing to the main American campaigns against Imperial Japan and the FBI, G-2 and Navy intelligence stood together to protect their monopoly on domestic counterintelligence work.

Nonetheless, OSS did eventually develop a capable counterintelligence apparatus of its own overseas and utilizing military, diplomatic and non-official cover, began to build a world-wide clandestine capability.

At its peak OSS employed almost 13,000 people, 35% of whom were women. Two-thirds of its ranks were comprised of US Army and Army Air Forces personnel. Civilians made up another quarter, the rest were from the Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard. Nearly 7,500 OSS employees, men and women, served overseas.

OSS Organization Chart
OSS Organization Chart

There was never an expectation that the OSS would continue to operate after the war despite Donovan’s insistence on the necessity of a peacetime intelligence Agency. President Truman took office and in late August 1945, he ordered that OSS be dismantled.

Donovan had just ten days to disassemble his agency. The Research & Analysis Branch moved to the State Department. Donovan’s Deputy was asked to stay on and help preserve the Counterintelligence Branch and the Secret Intelligence Branch, both now under the War Department in a new office dubbed the Strategic Services Unit (SSU). Donovan was not asked to stay on. On October 1, 1945, the OSS closed its doors.

* * * *

Strategic Services Unit (SSU)

Established 1 October 1945, Duration: 1 year, 5 months

SSU temporarily took over the former OSS posts in London, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Cairo, Chungking, Calcutta, New Delhi, and Rangoon, as well as various smaller posts until a more permanent solution could be put in place.

In January 1946, a new National Intelligence Authority was established along with a small Central Intelligence Group (CIG). In the spring of 1946 the President and Congress decided to give SSU’s duties, responsibilities, personnel, overseas field stations, communications and logistical capabilities to CIG. The decision to do this was based exclusively on the challenge of producing coordinated intelligence assessments.

Souers
Rear Admiral Sidney Souers

The Deputy Chief of Naval Intelligence, Rear Admiral Sidney Souers, USNR, was appointed Executive Secretary of CIG and was responsible for carrying out the integration of SSU into CIG. Souers openly admitted he had no desire to run the new organization and would only do so for as long as it took to establish the organization, which was six months.

CIG screened all SSU employees and offered positions to the best of them. CIG then took over SSU’s headquarter elements in Washington and SSU ceased to exist.

* * * *

Central Intelligence Group (CIG)

Established January 1946, Duration: 1 year, 6 months

CIG was responsible for coordinating, planning, evaluating and disseminating intelligence. CIG also acquired a clandestine collection capability as well as authority to conduct independent research and analysis. This was key as CIG was no longer just coordinating the intelligence it received from government agencies, but was now producing intelligence on its own. This enlarged CIG’s personnel strength considerably.

The new organization spied overseas with employees lent to it from the Army, Navy and Department of State. CIG functioned under the National Intelligence Authority, which was composed of a presidential representative and the secretaries of State, War and Navy. Within months of its creation, CIG became the nation’s primary agency for strategic warning and management of clandestine activities abroad. Yet, it was shackled to the constraints and resistance of the Department of State and the armed services. And so, to free itself, CIG became an independent department and was renamed the Central Intelligence Agency.

* * * *

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Established 18 September 1947, Duration: 70 years

The CIA was created under the National Security Act of 1947, which President Truman signed on July 26, 1947. The CIA officially came into existence on September 18 that same year. President Truman appointed the Deputy Director of CIG, Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter as the first Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. One third of the CIA’s personnel were OSS veterans.

DCI_Roscoe Hillenkoetter.jpg
Former DCI Roscoe Hillenkoetter

The 1947 Act loosely defined CIA’s mission and while the Act did not alter the functions of CIG, it did add four broad tasks: (1) advise the National Security Council (NSC) on matters related to national security; (2) make recommendations to the NSC regarding the coordination of intelligence activities of the Departments; (3) correlate and evaluate intelligence and provide for its appropriate dissemination and (4) ” perform such other functions… as the NSC will from time to time direct…”

Two years later, President Truman signed the Central Intelligence Agency Act, which authorized CIA to secretly fund intelligence operations and conduct personnel actions outside of standard US Government procedures.

E Street Sign
CIA’s first street sign

By 1953, the Agency was an established element of government. Its contributions in the areas of political action and paramilitary warfare were recognized and respected. The Agency attracted some of the most able lawyers, academicians, and young, committed patriots in the country. They brought with them professional associations and friendships which extended to the senior levels of government.The Agency had also achieved the basic structure and scale it retained for the next twenty years. The Korean War, United States foreign policy objectives, and the Agency’s internal organizational arrangements combined to produce an enormous impetus for growth. The CIA was six times the size it had been in 1947 and three of its current five directorates had been established.

Originally housed in a sprawling set of buildings in the center of Washington, D.C., the CIA’s physical presence gave it the advantage of seeming an integral part of, rather than a separate element of, the government.

In late 1961, CIA employees began relocating from a disparate collection of buildings in Washington, DC, to a newly constructed headquarters complex in Langley, Virginia. The Original Headquarters Building (OHB) was the first home designed specifically for Agency officers, and it still serves today as an iconic symbol of CIA and its mission.

Artist's Rendering of OHB
On August 4, 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill authorizing $46 million for construction of a CIA Headquarters Building. This is an artist’s rendering of OHB.

On December 17, 2004, President George W. Bush signed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act which restructured the Intelligence Community by abolishing the position of Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) and creating the position the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (D/CIA). The Act also created the position of Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which oversees the Intelligence Community and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).The CIA has continued to adjust and adapt to the emerging trends of an ever-changing global landscape. Today the CIA is America’s and the world’s premier foreign intelligence agency, shaped by its resilient past. We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go. We are the Nations eyes and ears, and sometimes, its hidden hand. We will continue our mission of collecting, analyzing, evaluating, and disseminating foreign intelligence to assist the President and senior US government policymakers in making decisions relating to national security now and indefinitely into the future.

Posted: Apr 10, 2007 08:04 AM
Last Updated: Sep 18, 2017 01:13 PM

 

 

Biggest Opium Pushers In U.S. Are: U.S. Politicians & AG Jeff Sessions

In the United States, we have been hearing a lot about the drugs that are made from this plant over the past few years. I admit to those of you who don’t know me that I am neither a scientist, psychotherapists nor a medical doctor. I am just an average 61-year-old person who reads a lot and who pays attention to reality the best that I can. Even though I am not the smartest person in the U.S. I am a person that strives to be bluntly honest about everything even if I don’t personally like the results of the answer. Truth has ‘no spin’ to it! I have said a few times before on this website that there really is only one real Truth, and that is ‘God’s’ Truth. When you/we/I have an argument concerning any issue, if we can honestly say that we would stand before our Creator, look Him in His eyes and tell Him that we are speaking the Truth, then that argument would be the Truth, to the very best of our personal knowledge anyways. Either that, or we would be acting like a total idiot and or a fool because we would be condemning our own self on purpose.

I have a question for each of us, do we/you/I believe that the politicians in D.C. are looking out for our best interest or their own best interest? Do you believe that your Congressman/woman, Senator or President cares more about you, or about the lobbyist who is funding their next campaign and or their personal lifestyle? Now, before I get into the meat of this article on the Opium issue I will tell you up front that Marijuana legalization is something that I totally agree with. I believe, excuse me, I know, that Marijuana helps with nerve pain, I am 100% sure of that. Back when I was in the U.S. Army I was directly struck by a lightning bolt. Even Social Security says I am disabled even though the VA doesn’t agree that the lightning has anything to do with me being disabled no matter what the non-VA Doctors and other experts have to say about it. As most of you know the Federal Government and the crooked ignorant putz AG Jeff Sessions say that Marijuana is just as or even more dangerous than Heroin and they class Marijuana as a class one narcotic, just like Heroin. To believe the Federal Government’s argument a person would have to be either clueless just plain ignorant or ‘on the take.’ The Feds say that Marijuana has no medical value even though that is totally contrary to all of the scientific evidence that says the Feds are lying.

So, the argument comes down to, why does the Fed’s keep lying? Or, do you really believe they are simply that ignorant? As long as the Federal government continues this policy the VA is not allowed to prescribe Marijuana to the service-connected disabled Veterans. The VA has no problem pumping many billions of taxpayer dollars worth of pills into the disabled Vets every year whether we need them or not but they refuse to allow the Veterans to use God’s given Herbs for pain relief. What is even worse is that if the VA in one of their blood or urine test finds THC from Marijuana in your system, they will cold turkey you off of the drugs they are giving/selling to you. This is even though doing this to people on some of these medications can easily kill a person. Why would any remotely honest or caring person do that to people? The answer to this is simple folks, its money.

For those of you who don’t believe me, I am going to offer you some cold hard facts as to why I used the title of this article. Even if you are a person who says they would never ever smoke Marijuana, does that mean that you have any right to insist that others cannot, no matter what? I am going to use last November’s Elections in Arizona as a perfect example. This example shows just how dirty big Pharma is, I am going to show you just how much they want people to die from Opium use and the reason is simple, money!

Within everyone’s brain, there is what is called an MU Opioid Receptor. This is something that Opium sticks to in a person’s brain. Morphine is an Opioid drug, just like Heroin is so I am going to use them in this example. Even though Pharma made drugs like Morphine and Oxycontin are very expensive even on the street drugs like Heroin are amazingly cheap. Yet there is another man-made drug called Fentanyl, a synthetic form of Heroin that is even cheaper and easier to make than regular Heroin. Trouble is this that this street drug Fentanyl is about 100 times more powerful than Heroin and it is very deadly even to come into contact with very much of it at all. Fentanyl has become a major problem for first responders, EMS and Police as they do come into contact with it many times every day. These days Ambulances and Police Vehicles are being required to carry the ‘antidote’ for their own safety’s sake.

This ‘antidote’ is called Narcan and Narcan is a drug that is big Pharma made and distributed. Concerning Opium products like Heroin and Morphine the antidote, Narcan works quite well at knocking the Opium off of the MU Receptor yet it does very little to help get the Fentanyl off of the MU Receptor. Don’t get me wrong, people are still dying every day from Opioid overdoses also. The Fed said that Opioid overdoses are up more than 400% here in the U.S. since the year 2000. The big Pharma company’s who make Narcan know this fact very well, so do the politicians yet they prove to all of us that they do not care about all of these thousands of people who are dying nor their families, nor even the First Responders.

Now back to the 2016 Elections in the State of Arizona. The facts show that in the States that have made recreational Marijuana legal that Opioid overdoses and deaths are down about 50%. On a side note, in these states alcohol sales are down about 25%, think of how many people aren’t getting into car accidents because of drinking and driving. Also, think of how many domestic violence deaths aren’t happening in those States and how many fatal ‘bar fights’ aren’t happening. Yet the reality is that big Pharma companies make billions from their pharmacy-made drugs so just like last November in Arizona they pumped in many millions of dollars in false advertisements to try to get the people of Arizona to vote down making Marijuana legal in their State. The sad part is, they were successful in Arizona. The big Pharmaceutical companies have been pushing hard to get Narcan into every ambulance, police car, school, and home in America. There is only one reason for this and that is money, to heck with people’s lives, the only thing that really matters is a company’s profits. These Pharmaceutical companies know that Marijuana is a natural painkiller but they aren’t making any money off of a plant that anyone can grow in their own garden. Now, you do understand why I said that the politicians and people like AG Jeff Sessions want to keep Marijuana illegal don’t you? The answer is very simple, campaign contributions from these big Pharma Companies and because of many who own stocks in these same big Pharma Companies.

 

Here are some of the companies who put huge amounts of money into last November’s ‘anti-pot’ vote in Arizona. I got this information from (The Guardian, US News And World Report, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and from Equities.com News.)

These companies are:

Chandler Pharma

Insys Therapeutics

Pfizer Inc

Walgreens Boot’s Alliance Inc

Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc

Mylan N.V.

Opnet Technologies Inc

 

How Dare Israel Blow Up Hamas Tunnels That Are In Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWS AGENCY ‘DAWN’)

 

A mourner reacts as Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants hold their weapons during the funeral of their comrades killed in an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israel, in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on October 31, 2017. —AFP
A mourner reacts as Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants hold their weapons during the funeral of their comrades killed in an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into Israel, in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on October 31, 2017. —AFP

Tensions rose on Tuesday after an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnelfrom the Gaza Strip killed seven Palestinian militants in one of the deadliest incidents since a devastating 2014 war.

The seven men, from the armed wings of Gaza’s rulers Hamas and allied group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, were killed on Monday when Israel blew up the tunnel it said had crossed into its territory and was intended for attacks.

They were being buried on Tuesday in their respective neighbourhoods in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya appeared at a funeral in central Gaza attended by a few thousand people, witnesses said, while senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Hayya spoke at one in the southern part of the strip.

“(Hamas) knows how to manage the conflict with the enemy and how to get revenge and strike at the time and place that hurts the enemy,” Hayya said, according to a statement.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008 and the last conflict in 2014 was waged in part over tunnels from Gaza that were used to carry out attacks.

Israel said it had been monitoring the digging of the tunnel for an unspecified length of time and was forced to act after “the grave and unacceptable violation of Israeli sovereignty.”

It said the operation was carried out on the Israeli side of the border and stressed it was not seeking a further escalation.

No tunnel opening had been found on the Israeli side of the border. It had come from the vicinity of the city of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, Israeli’s military said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday his country would “not tolerate any attacks on our sovereignty, on our people, on our land, whether from the air, from the sea, from the ground, or below the ground”.

“We attack those who seek to attack us.”

Sensitive moment

The operation comes at a sensitive time, with rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas pursuing a reconciliation accord aimed at ending their 10-year rift.

Hamas is due to hand over control of the enclave’s borders to the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Wednesday under the deal mediated by Egypt and signed on October 12.

It is due to return the Gaza Strip to full PA control by December 1.

Both Haniya and Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah spoke of ensuring the reconciliation pact remains on track.

“The response to this massacre… is to move forward towards the restoration of national unity because the enemy realises our strength is our unity,” Haniya said.

Senior PA official Mustafa Barghouti accused Israel of trying to disrupt the reconciliation bid.

Separately in the West Bank on Tuesday, Israeli forces opened fire on a “suspect” vehicle, killing one Palestinian and wounding another, Israel’s army and the Palestinian health ministry said. There did not appear to be any connection.

Hamas forces have used tunnels in the past to enter Israel and carry out attacks, but discoveries of those stretching into Israeli territory since the end of the 2014 war have been rare.

In April 2016, Israel’s military said it had located and destroyed a tunnel extending from the Gaza Strip into Israel in the first such discovery since the 2014 conflict.

First test of unity

An Israel army spokesman said on Monday that Israel used advanced technology to locate the tunnel but declined to elaborate.

The army has been seeking to build an underground wall surrounding Gaza that would block such tunnels, among other methods it has been developing.

Israeli leaders have been keen to show they are addressing the threat of tunnels from the Gaza Strip.

A state inquiry in February accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top army brass of being unprepared for the tunnels used by Hamas during the 2014 conflict.

Hamas has ruled Gaza since a near civil war with Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank, in 2007.

Since then they have fought three wars with Israel, while Gaza’s two million citizens have suffered as Israel has blockaded the strip.

Egypt’s border with the enclave has also remained largely closed in recent years.

Wednesday’s scheduled handover of the border crossings is a first key test of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal.

Israel has said it will reject any unity government that includes Hamas if the group does not disarm and recognise the country, among other demands.

During the 2014 war, 32 tunnels were discovered, including 14 that extended into Israel, according to a UN report on the conflict.

The devastating conflict killed 2,251 Palestinians, while more than 10,000 were wounded and 100,000 were left homeless.

On the Israeli side, 74 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers.

5.6-Million-Year-Old Hominin-Like Footprints Discovered in Crete

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SCIENCE NEWS)

 

5.6-Million-Year-Old Hominin-Like Footprints in Crete Challenge Theories of Human Evolution

Researchers have found late Miocene footprints — which show hominin-like characteristics — near the village of Trachilos, west of Kissamos, in the Chania Prefecture of Crete, Greece. The footprints, described in a 31 August study in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, may put the established narrative of early human evolution to the test.

The Trachilos footprints were discovered by Dr. Gerard Gierlinski, a paleontologist at the Polish Geological Institute, by chance when he was on holiday on Crete in 2002. Dr. Gierlinski identified the footprints as those of a mammal. In 2010, he returned to the site together with Dr. Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki, a Polish paleontologist at Uppsala University, to study the footprints in detail. Together they came to the conclusion that the footprints were made by hominins. Image credit: Andrzej Boczarowski.

The Trachilos footprints were discovered by Dr. Gerard Gierlinski, a paleontologist at the Polish Geological Institute, by chance when he was on holiday on Crete in 2002. Dr. Gierlinski identified the footprints as those of a mammal. In 2010, he returned to the site together with Dr. Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki, a Polish paleontologist at Uppsala University, to study the footprints in detail. Together they came to the conclusion that the footprints were made by hominins. Image credit: Andrzej Boczarowski.

Ever since the discovery of Australopithecus in South and East Africa in the 1920s-90s, the origin of the human lineage has been thought to lie in Africa.

More recent discoveries in the same region, including the 3.75-million-year-old Laetoli footprints from Tanzania, have cemented the idea that hominins not only originated in Africa, but remained isolated there for several million years before dispersing to Europe and Asia.

The discovery of the Trachilos footprints, which are at least 5.6 million years old and thus approximately 2 million years older than the hominin trackways from Laetoli, suggests a more complex reality.

“Human feet have a very distinctive shape, different from all other land animals,” the study authors explained.

“The combination of a long sole, five short forward-pointing toes without claws, and a hallux (‘big toe’) that is larger than the other toes, is unique.”

“The feet of our closest relatives, the great apes, look more like a human hand with a thumb-like hallux that sticks out to the side.”

“The Laetoli footprints, thought to have been made by Australopithecus, are quite similar to those of modern humans except that the heel is narrower and the sole lacks a proper arch. By contrast, the 4.4-million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus from Ethiopia, the oldest hominin known from reasonably complete fossils, has an ape-like foot.”

“Paleoanthropologists who described Ardipithecus argued that it is a direct ancestor of later hominins, implying that a human-like foot had not yet evolved at that time.”

Photograph of two prints possibly representing a static stance of one individual. Image credit: Gierlinski et al, doi: 10.1016/j.pgeola.2017.07.006.

Photograph of two prints possibly representing a static stance of one individual. Image credit: Gierlinski et al, doi: 10.1016/j.pgeola.2017.07.006.

The Trachilos footprints have an unmistakably human-like form. This is especially true of the toes. The big toe is similar to our own in shape, size and position; it is also associated with a distinct ‘ball’ on the sole, which is never present in apes.

The sole of the foot is proportionately shorter than in the Laetoli footprints, but it has the same general form.

In short, the shape of the Trachilos footprints indicates unambiguously that they belong to an early hominin, somewhat more primitive than the Laetoli trackmaker. They were made on sandy seashore, possibly a small river delta, whereas the Laetoli tracks were made in volcanic ash.

“What makes this controversial is the age and location of the prints,” said senior author Professor Per Erik Ahlberg, of Uppsala University.

“The Trachilos footprints are younger than the oldest known fossil hominin, Sahelanthropus from Chad, and contemporary with Orrorin from Kenya, but more than a million years older than Ardipithecus ramidus with its ape-like feet.”

“This conflicts with the hypothesis that Ardipithecus is a direct ancestor of later hominins.”

“Furthermore, until this year, all fossil hominins older than 1.8 million years (the age of early Homo fossils from Georgia) came from Africa, leading most researchers to conclude that this was where the group evolved,” the researchers said.

“However, the Trachilos footprints are securely dated using a combination of foraminifera from over- and underlying beds, plus the fact that they lie just below a very distinctive sedimentary rock formed when the Mediterranean sea briefly dried out, 5.6 million years ago.”

Earlier this year, another team reinterpreted the fragmentary 7.2 million year old primate Graecopithecus freybergi from Greece and Bulgaria as a hominin.

“During the time when the Trachilos footprints were made, the Sahara Desert did not exist; savannah-like environments extended from North Africa up around the eastern Mediterranean. Furthermore, Crete had not yet detached from the Greek mainland,” the scientists said.

“It is thus not difficult to see how early hominins could have ranged across south-east Europe and well as Africa, and left their footprints on a Mediterranean shore that would one day form part of the island of Crete.”

“This discovery challenges the established narrative of early human evolution head-on and is likely to generate a lot of debate,” Professor Ahlberg said.

“Whether the human origins research community will accept fossil footprints as conclusive evidence of the presence of hominins in the Miocene of Crete remains to be seen.”

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Gerard D. Gierliński et al. Possible hominin footprints from the late Miocene (c. 5.7 Ma) of Crete? Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, published online August 31, 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.pgeola.2017.07.006

Trump says ‘appeasement’ will not work after North Korea nuke test

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI DAWN NEWSPAPER)

 

Japan government registers protest with N. Korean embassy in Bejing, calls test “extremely unforgivable”. — File
Japan government registers protest with N. Korean embassy in Bejing, calls test “extremely unforgivable”. — File

US President Donald Trump declared on Sunday that “appeasement with North Korea” will not work, after Pyongyang claimed it had successfully tested a missile-ready hydrogen bomb.

“North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test,” Trump said. “Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”

His comments came hours after the US Geological Survey picked up a 6.3 magnitude “explosion” in North Korea, which Pyongyang confirmed was a nuclear test, its sixth.

Earlier, Japan confirmed that North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Sunday, registering a formal protest with Pyongyang after a major explosion at the isolated nation’s main test site.

“The government confirms that North Korea conducted a nuclear test after examining information from the weather agency and other information,” Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono told reporters.

He said the government registered a protest with the North Korean embassy in Beijing prior to the confirmation, calling any test “extremely unforgivable”.

“Today’s nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is an extremely regrettable act,” International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said in a statement.

“This new test, which follows the two tests last year and is the sixth since 2006, is in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community.”

Trump last month threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” if it continued to threaten the United States, but he refrained from direct threats in his latest tweets.

“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” he said.

Earlier, South Korea’s military had expressed suspicion that North Korea had conducted its sixth nuclear test, after it detected a “strong earthquake.”

The strong tremor was felt hours after Pyongyang claimed that its leader has inspected a hydrogen bomb meant for a new intercontinental ballistic missile.

South Korea’s weather agency and the Joint Chief of Staff said an artificial 5.6 magnitude quake occurred at 12:29 pm local time, in Kilju, northern Hamgyong Province.

The US Geological Survey called the first quake an explosion with a magnitude 6.3.

Shortly after, Yonhap news agency said a second quake was detected with a magnitude 4.6 but South Korea’s weather agency denied another quake occurred.

There was no word from the military in Seoul about the possible second quake.

North Korea conducted its fifth test last year in September. In confirmed, the latest test would mark yet another big step forward in North Korean attempts to obtain a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching deep into the US mainland.

South Korea’s presidential office said it will hold a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Moon Jae-in.

Islamabad condemns Pyongyang’s actions

Pakistan on Sunday condemned the reported nuclear test by North Korea.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said, “Pakistan has consistently maintained that DPRK should comply with the UN Security Council resolutions and asked all sides to refrain from provocative actions.

Pakistan urges all sides to display utmost restraint and return towards the path of peaceful negotiated settlement of the issue, it added.

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year and has since maintained a torrid pace in weapons tests, including flight-testing developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles and flying a powerful mid-range missile over Japan.

Photos released by the North Korean government on Sunday showed Kim talking with his lieutenants as he observed a silver, peanut-shaped device that was apparently the purported thermonuclear weapon destined for an ICBM.

What appeared to be the nose cone of a missile could also be seen near the alleged bomb in one picture, which could not be independently verified and which was taken without outside journalists present. Another photo showed a diagram on the wall behind Kim of a bomb mounted inside a cone.

Aside from the factuality of the North’s claim, the language in its statement seems a strong signal that Pyongyang will soon conduct its sixth nuclear weapon test, which is crucial if North Korean scientists are to fulfil the national goal of an arsenal of viable nuclear ICBMs that can reach the US mainland.

There’s speculation that such a test could come on or around the Sept. 9 anniversary of North Korea’s national founding, something it did last year.

As part of the North’s weapons work, Kim was said by his propaganda mavens to have made a visit to the Nuclear Weapons Institute and inspected a “homemade” H-bomb with “super explosive power” that “is adjustable from tens (of) kiloton to hundreds (of) kiloton.”

North Korea in July conducted its first ever ICBM tests, part of a stunning jump in progress for the country’s nuclear and missile program since Kim rose to power following his father’s death in late 2011.

The North followed its two tests of Hwasong-14 ICBMs, which, when perfected, could target large parts of the United States, by threatening to launch a salvo of its Hwasong-12 intermediate range missiles toward the US Pacific island territory of Guam in August.

It flew a Hwasong-12 over northern Japan last week, the first such overflight by a missile capable of carrying nukes, in a launch Kim described as a “meaningful prelude” to containing Guam, the home of major US military facilities, and more ballistic missile tests targeting the Pacific.

Vipin Narang, an MIT professor specialising in nuclear strategy, said it’s important to note that North Korea was only showing a mock-up of a two-stage thermonuclear device, or H-bomb.

“We won’t know what they have until they test it, and even then there may be a great deal of uncertainty depending on the yield and seismic signature and any isotopes we can detect after a test,” he said.

To back up its claims to nuclear mastery, such tests are vital. The first of its two atomic tests last year involved what Pyongyang claimed was a sophisticated hydrogen bomb; the second it said was its most powerful atomic detonation ever.

It is almost impossible to independently confirm North Korean statements about its highly secret weapons program. South Korean government officials said the estimated explosive yield of last year’s first test was much smaller than what even a failed hydrogen bomb detonation would produce.

There was speculation that North Korea might have detonated a boosted fission bomb, a weapon considered halfway between an atomic bomb and an H-bomb.

It is clear, however, that each new missile and nuclear test gives the North invaluable information that allows big jumps in capability.

A key question is how far North Korea has gotten in efforts to consistently shrink down nuclear warheads so they can fit on long-range missiles.

“Though we cannot verify the claim, (North Korea) wants us to believe that it can launch a thermonuclear strike now, if it is attacked. Importantly, (North Korea) will also want to test this warhead, probably at a larger yield, to demonstrate this capability,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress.

North Korea is thought to have a growing arsenal of nuclear bombs and has spent decades trying to perfect a multistage, long-range missile to eventually carry smaller versions of those bombs.

South Korea’s main spy agency has previously asserted that it does not think Pyongyang currently has the ability to develop miniaturised nuclear weapons that can be mounted on long-range ballistic missiles. Some experts, however, think the North may have mastered this technology.

The White House said that President Donald Trump spoke with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan regarding “ongoing efforts to maximize pressure on North Korea.”

The statement did not say whether the conversation came before or after the North’s latest claim.

A long line of US presidents has failed to check North Korea’s persistent pursuit of missiles and nuclear weapons. Six-nation negotiations on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for aid fell apart in early 2009.

The North said in its statement Sunday that its H-bomb “is a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack according to strategic goals.”

Kim, according to the statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, claimed that “all components of the H-bomb were homemade … thus enabling the country to produce powerful nuclear weapons as many as it wants.”

In what could be read as a veiled warning of more nuclear tests, Kim underlined the need for scientists to “dynamically conduct the campaign for successfully concluding the final-stage research and development for perfecting the state nuclear force” and “set forth tasks to be fulfilled in the research into nukes.”

The two Koreas have shared the world’s most heavily fortified border since their war in the early 1950s ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea as deterrence against North Korea.

Trump Family Constant Traveling Has Financially Broke Secret Service: Can’t Pay Agents

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Washington (CNN) The Secret Service cannot pay hundreds of agents to protect President Donald Trump and his large family, according to a report published Monday morning.

Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles told USA Today more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances — which were meant to last the entire year.
“The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,” Alles told USA Today. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.”
Later Monday morning, Alles told CNN in a statement that the problem isn’t just related to the Trump administration and has been going on for many years.
“This issue is not one that can be attributed to the current administration’s protection requirements but, rather, has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo,” he said in the statement.
Trump has taken trips almost every weekend of his presidency so far, to his properties in New Jersey, Virginia and Florida, as well as internationally — and his adult children also require protection during their business trips and vacations.
In Trump’s administration, 42 people have protection, which includes 18 members of his family — an increase from the 31 people who had Secret Service protection in Obama’s administration.
In June, CNN reported that the Secret Service was relaxing its drug policy for potential hires, as Alles laid out a plan to swell the agency’s ranks by more than 3,000 employees in the coming years.
“I think between that and the fact that he has a larger family, that’s just more stress on the organization. We recognize that,” Alles said at the time, and added that he had been allocating resources in accordance.
According to the report, Alles has met with congressional lawmakers to discuss planned legislation to increase the combined salary and overtime cap for agents — from $160,000 per year to $187,000. He told USA Today this would be at least for Trump’s first term.
But he added that even if this were approved, about 130 agents still wouldn’t be able to be paid for hundreds of hours already worked.
However, Alles said in a statement to CNN that the agency has the funding for the rest of the fiscal year.
“The Secret Service has the funding it needs to meet all current mission requirements for the remainder of the fiscal year and compensate employees for overtime within statutory pay caps,” he said in the statement. “The Secret Service estimates that roughly 1,100 employees will work overtime hours in excess of statutory pay caps during calendar year 2017. Our agency experienced a similar situation in calendar year 2016 that resulted in legislation that allowed Secret Service employees to exceed statutory caps on pay.”
The statement continued: “To remedy this ongoing and serious problem, the agency has worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the administration, and the Congress over the past several months to find a legislative solution.”
The White House said in a statement that Trump “is committed to ensuring the Secret Service and all of those protecting our country have all the resources they need. We are going to continue to work with Congress on this important issue, which requires their actions.”
In April, CNN reported that Trump’s travel to his private club in Florida has cost more than an estimated $20 million in his first 80 days in office, putting the President on pace to surpass former President Barack Obama’s eight years of spending on travel — in only his first year in office.
Before and during the campaign season, Trump regularly criticized Obama for costing the American taxpayer money every time he took a trip, and Trump the candidate repeatedly called for belt-tightening across government agencies.
In 2014, Trump tweeted: “We pay for Obama’s travel so he can fundraise millions so Democrats can run on lies. Then we pay for his golf.”
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