Thousands Oaks Bar Shooting: Friendly Fire Killed Deputy By A State Trooper

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

 / Updated 
By Doha Madani

A sheriff’s sergeant who died during a firefight during the Borderline Bar and Grill mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, last month was killed by friendly fire, officials said.

Sgt. Ron Helus was hit five times by gunman Ian David Long at the bar but was ultimately killed by a sixth shot from a California Highway Patrol officer’s AR-style rifle, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at a press conference Friday.

Image: Sgt. Ron Helus
Ventura County officer Sgt. Ron Helus.Santa Barbara County Sheriff

“This news is extremely difficult for all of us to process and understand,” Ayub said.

Helus was wearing body armor during the shooting but the rifle shot penetrated the vest and struck his heart, according to the medical examiner.

“I can tell you that most body armor worn by municipal police in this country is not capable of stopping rifle ammunition,” Ayub told reporters. “It’s a matter of comfort as well as fatigue for officers to wear heavy armor, day in and day out.”

The highway patrol officer who fired the fatal shot was a 9-year veteran of the department and has voluntarily taken time off, according to a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

“The mere thought of something like this happening is devastating to all of us and underscores the difficult and dangerous circumstances law enforcement faces, often with only mere seconds to react,” California Highway Patrol Commissioner Warren Stanley said in a statement.

Long, 28, the man who killed 12 people at the bar, was a machine gunner in the Marines from 2008 to 2013. He served as a corporal and was deployed in Afghanistan. Long died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the bar after the attack.

Long’s motive for the shooting is still unknown.

Andrew Blankstein contributed.

In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many and a Dilemma for Reporters

A woman in the poor mountain village of Al Juberia, Yemen.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image
A woman in the poor mountain village of Al Juberia, Yemen. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

SANA, Yemen — At a restaurant in the Yemeni capital, Sana, a waiter brought bowls of slow-cooked lamb served with mounds of rice. For dessert there was kunafa, the classic Arab dish of golden brown pastry filled with cheese.

An hour later I was back at work, in a hushed hospital ward filled with malnourished children with skeletal faces, hanging between life and death for want of money and a good meal.

If that juxtaposition strikes you as jarring, even distasteful, it felt that way to me, too.

Crisis zones are often places of stark contrast, but in Yemen the gulf is particularly uncomfortable. The problem isn’t a lack of food; it’s that few people can afford to buy what food is available.

Years of blockades, bombs and soaring inflation have crushed the economy. A crushed state means there is no safety net.

As a result, beggars congregate outside supermarkets filled with goods; markets are filled with produce in towns where the hungry eat boiled leaves; and restaurants selling rich food are a few hundred yards from hunger wards filled with desperation, pain and death.

For a reporter, that brings a dilemma. Journalists travel with bundles of hard currency, usually dollars, to pay for hotels, transport and translation. A small fraction of that cash might go a long way for a starving family. Should I pause, put down my notebook and offer to help?

It’s a question some readers asked after we published a recent article on Yemen’s looming famine.

Many were touched by a powerful photograph by Tyler Hicks of Amal Hussain, an emaciated 7-year-old girl whose haunting stare brought the war’s human cost into shocking focus.

And many were devastated to learn that, soon after we left, Amal’s mother brought her back to the shabby refugee camp they call home, where she died a few days later.

Amal Hussain, who died at age 7 from malnutrition soon after this photograph was taken.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image
Amal Hussain, who died at age 7 from malnutrition soon after this photograph was taken.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Some, in their anguish, turned the focus back on us.

Why didn’t we do something to save Amal’s life, they wanted to know. Did we just take the photo, conduct the interview and move on? Couldn’t we have somehow ensured that her family would get help?

“You can take the picture AND provide assistance,” one woman said on Twitter. “One doesn’t rule out the other.”

The questions resonated. Reporters are trained to bear witness; aid workers and doctors have the job of helping people.

Donating money, or other forms of assistance, can be fraught with ethical, moral and practical complications. Is it fair to single out one person or family for help? What if they embellish their story for the next foreigner who comes along, thinking they could get more money?

Plus, we have a job to do.

Doctors show us around, and sometimes we end up acting like them — examining stick-like limbs and flaccid skin with clinical detachment; tabulating figures about weight and age; listening as families recount their tragedies with amazing calm. The prospect of death is discussed. We nod sagely, make a note, move on.

But while we may try to mimic a stone, we are not stones, and every day in Yemen someone told me something that made a lump rise in my throat.

COMMENT OF THE MOMENT

Sandra commented November 30

Sandra
Times Pick

Let’s cut to the chase and get the U.N. and it’s agencies in there. Just do it. The USA should be spear heading the effort. War between armies is one thing. War on starving people is quite another….no grey area! NONE!

SEE MORE

Usually it was a mundane detail, like the lack of a few dollars to take a dying child to the hospital. Yemen, you realize, is a country where people are dying for lack of a taxi fare.

An injured Yemeni fighter with the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is battling Iran-allied Houthis for control of Yemen at a field hospital in Durayhimi.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image

An injured Yemeni fighter with the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is battling Iran-allied Houthis for control of Yemen at a field hospital in Durayhimi.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Yemenis have to navigate such terrain, too.

While some are dying, others are getting on with living. One night we returned to our hotel in Hajjah, a town ringed by rocky ridges in a province that has been pummeled by Saudi airstrikes. Lying in bed, I was startled by a loud bang then a burst of light that filled the sky — not a bomb, but fireworks.

Since the start of the war, the rate of marriage in Yemen has gone up. And so, in this town where malnourished infants were perishing at the city hospital, others were dancing and celebrating through the night.

But the surge in weddings, it turned out, was a survival mechanism.

Across the social spectrum, Yemenis are sliding down the poverty ladder. Where once a mother bought a sack of rice to feed her family, now she can afford only a small bag. The hand of a daughter in marriage brings a bride price, and so weddings can be a source of income for stretched families.

Disturbingly, many of the brides are children. According to Unicef, two-thirds of Yemeni girls are married before the age of 18, up from 50 percent before the war.

As we crossed Yemen — from the battle-scarred port of Hudaydah to the Houthi-held mountains — on a bumpy 900-mile journey, we saw scenes of heartbreaking suffering that unfolded against a backdrop of spectacular mountains, and customs that stubbornly endure despite everything.

Every day, town centers bustled with men buying khat, the narcotic leaf beloved by Yemenis. The khat bazaars are a social event. Men, some with guns over their shoulders, gather to trade news, meet friends and prepare for the afternoon chew.

Women in black cloaks flitted between them; in one place, a loud argument erupted into fisticuffs. Even as starvation bites, some are reluctant to cut back on their habit.

In one health clinic, Ibrahim Junaid, a worried father standing over his ailing 5-month-old son, was chewing a lump of khat that left a green stain on his teeth and lips.

Mr. Junaid was 60; his wife, 25, stood silently by his side. The nurses wrapped the boy in a gold foil blanket to keep him warm.

Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Junaid, 60, and his wife Zahra Ali Ahmed, 25, taking their son, Ahmed Ibrahim al Junaid, 5 months old, to a clinic to treat his malnutrition.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Junaid, 60, and his wife Zahra Ali Ahmed, 25, taking their son, Ahmed Ibrahim al Junaid, 5 months old, to a clinic to treat his malnutrition.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Mr. Junaid regretted that his son hadn’t enough to eat, adding that he had a lot of mouths to feed; he had married twice, and fathered 13 children.

The value of practices like chewing khat may be hard to understand in such turbulent times. But for men like Mr. Junaid, it is an integral part of their day. And it is a mark of the resilience of an ancient society, one of the oldest civilizations of the Middle East.

“People say Yemen is in a state of chaos, but it’s not,” said Thierry Durand, an aid worker who has worked in Yemen since the 1980s, and now runs a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Mocha. “There is still structure.”

“You can’t put it in three lines in your paper or describe it in three minutes on TV,” he continued. “This country is structured by family, tribe, traditions — and despite everything, those structures are still there, and they are strong.”

Still, Yemeni society is being ravaged by war. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, aided by American bombs, have killed thousands of civilians, and displaced many more. But for most Yemenis, war strikes their lives in quieter, more insidious ways.

Bombs blow up bridges or factories, killing jobs, causing the currency to crumble and prices to soar, and forcing families to abstain from meat, then vegetables. Soon, they are dependent on international food aid or, in the worst cases, resort to meals of boiled leaves.

A bridge in Bani Hassan was damaged by a Saudi airstrike.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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A bridge in Bani Hassan was damaged by a Saudi airstrike.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Small but vital things, like a cab fare, become unattainable.

As we drove away from the small hospital in Aslam, where Amal Hussain was being treated, we passed a young couple hitching a ride on the side of the road. They were holding a small infant. We stopped and offered them a ride.

They squeezed into the passenger seat — the father, Khalil Hadi, enveloped by the black cloak of his wife, Hanna, who held their fragile 9-month-old son, Wejdan, who had just been released from the malnutrition ward.

Theirs was a typical story. Their home near the Saudi border had been bombed, so they rented a room in a house near Aslam. Mr. Hadi tried to earn money driving a motorbike taxi, and by foraging for wood to sell at the market.

But it wasn’t enough, and when he tried to go home, the Houthi soldiers told him the area was a military zone. Their diet was reduced to bread, tea and halas, the vine that grew locally. His wife was four months pregnant with their second child.

Mr. Hadi wasn’t looking for pity; many people were in similar trouble, he said. “I’d do anything to make some money,” he said. “The situation is so hard.”

At a junction in the road, the couple stepped out, offered thanks and began to walk away. Fumbling in my pocket, I called them back.

I pulled out a wad of Yemeni notes — about $15 worth — and pressed it into his hand. It seemed so futile, in the greater scheme of things. What could it buy them? A few days respite, if even that?

Mr. Hadi accepted the money with a gracious smile. As we drove off I saw the couple amble down a dusty road, toward their shelter, their ailing son held tight.

Khalil Hadi and his pregnant wife, Itanna Hassan Massani, carrying their 9-month-old son, Wejdan, from a clinic in Aslam.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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Khalil Hadi and his pregnant wife, Itanna Hassan Massani, carrying their 9-month-old son, Wejdan, from a clinic in Aslam.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Follow Declan Walsh on Twitter:@declanwalsh

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Contrast in Crushed State Presents Journalists With Ethical Dilemma. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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Israel Is Working To Forge Ties With Bahrain, Chad And Sudan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel said working to forge ties with Bahrain amid unprecedented Gulf opening

News of effort to normalize relations with Manama comes after reports that Israel is eyeing ties with Sudan, as Chadian leader makes historic visit to Israel

Bahraini voters queue outside a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. (AFP)

Bahraini voters queue outside a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. (AFP)

Israel is working to normalize ties with Bahrain, as Jerusalem ramps up its drive to forge more open relations with the Arab world amid shifting alliances in the Middle East driven by shared concerns over Iran, Hebrew-language news sites reported late Sunday.

The reports, sourced to an unnamed senior official, did not detail Israel’s efforts to get closer to Manama, but came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted he would soon travel to unspecified Arab states, during a press conference with visiting Chadian leader Idriss Déby Sunday.

Déby’s historic visit is part of a campaign to lay the groundwork for normalizing ties with Muslim-majority countries Sudan, Mali and Niger, according to a report on Israel’s Channel 10 news Sunday.

The revelation that Israel is actively working to forge closer ties with Bahrain comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is visiting the island kingdom. The prince, who is attempting to rehabilitate his image in the West after the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi, is seen as a key part of a US-backed drive for Gulf states to open their doors to Israel amid shared concern over Iran’s expansion in the region.

In May, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa wrote on Twitter that Israel has the right to defend itself against Iran.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, participates in a ministerial meeting with the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (US State Department, via AP)

Oman, which has often played the role of regional mediator, welcomed Netanyahu in a surprise visit last month, an apparent sign of Israeli progress in improving ties with Gulf countries.

At a security conference in Bahrain following the visit, Omani foreign minister also offered rare words of support for the Jewish state.

“Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this fact and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same and also bear the same obligations,” Yussef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

During a press conference with Déby on Sunday, Netanyahu remarked that “there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,” without providing details.

The Israeli premier has for years spoken about the warming ties between Israel and the Arab world, citing not only Iran as a common enemy but also many countries’ interest in cooperating with Israel on security and defense matters, as well as Israel’s growing high-tech industry.

The effort to forge ties with Sudan comes as Khartoum has looked to move closer to Sunni Gulf states after years as an ally of Iran.

In early 2017, Khartoum joined Sunni Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in severing its ties with the Islamic Republic.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir prepares to cast his ballot for the country’s presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum, Sudan, April 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy, File)

At the time, the country also appeared to make overtures toward Israel. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in a 2016 interview that Sudan was open to the idea of normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for lifting US sanctions on Khartoum. According to Hebrew-language media reports at the time, Israeli diplomats tried to drum up support for Sudan in the international community after it severed its ties to Tehran.

In the past, Sudan has allegedly served as a way-station for the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. Israel has reportedly intercepted and destroyed transfers of weapons from Sudan bound for Gaza.

In 2009, the International Criminal Court also issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, relating to the bloody conflict in the western Darfur region.

However, since it broke ties with Iran, Sudan is no longer perceived by Israel as a threat, but rather as a potential ally.

New era

Earlier on Sunday, Déby became the first president of Chad to visit Israel and pledged a new era of relations when meeting Netanyahu, 46 years after ties were severed.

In remarks to journalists after a closed-door meeting, Déby spoke of the two countries committing to a new era of cooperation with “the prospect of reestablishing diplomatic relations.”

Déby said he was “proud” that he had accepted Israel’s official invite. “It can be called breaking the ice,” he said. “We came here indeed with the desire to renew diplomatic relations. Your country is an important country. Your country, like Chad, fights against terrorism.”

Chad, a Muslim-majority, Arabic-speaking country in central Africa, broke off relations with Israel in 1972.

Despite the lack of formal ties, both Déby and Netanyahu on Sunday stressed the centrality of security cooperation between the two countries.

Chad is also one of several African states engaged in Western-backed operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State jihadists in West Africa. Earlier this month, the US donated military vehicles and boats worth $1.3 million to Chad as part of the campaign against Islamist militancy in the country.

File: Chadian soldiers gather on February 1, 2015 near the Nigerian town of Gamboru, just across the border from Cameroon. (AFP/Marle)

Under Déby, Chad’s government has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and rigged elections. He took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016.

On Sunday, Chadian security sources were quoted by Reuters saying that Israel had sent Chad arms and money earlier this year to help the country in its fight against Islamist groups. Netanyahu in his remarks to journalists thanked Déby for his visit and hailed “flourishing” ties between Israel and African nations. He declined questions about whether the two leaders discussed potential Israeli arms sales to Chad.

Netanyahu portrayed the unprecedented visit as the result of his hard-won diplomatic efforts, referring to his three visits to Africa over the last couple years and his surprise trip to Oman in October.

According to Israel’s Channel 10, Israel’s diplomatic push in Africa is driven in part by a desire to ease air travel to Latin America. Flying in the airspace of traditionally hostile African countries — namely Chad and Sudan — would allow airlines to offer faster, more direct flights between Israel and the continent.

Channel 10 estimated that flying directly from Israel to Brazil over Sudan would shave some four hours off the average journey, which currently takes at least 17 hours, and requires a stopover in either Europe or North America.

Separately, Hadashot television news reported on Sunday that Netanyahu has secured reassurances from Oman that airlines flying to and from Israel — including national carrier El Al — would be permitted to fly over the kingdom’s airspace. The prime minister received this message during his surprise visit to Muscat last month — the first by an Israeli leader in over 20 years, the television report said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Citing terror by Pakistan, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh declines invite to Kartarpur ceremony

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS AGENCY)

 

Citing terror by Pakistan, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh declines invite to Kartarpur ceremony

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh cited terrorist attacks in his state and the killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani armed forces.

INDIA Updated: Nov 25, 2018 23:34 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Kartarpur corridor,Amarinder Singh,Imran Khan
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh(AFP File Photo)

Punjab’s chief minister Amarinder Singh has declined an invitation by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to attend the laying of the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor on November 28, citing terrorist attacks in his state and the killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani armed forces.

In a letter to the Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Amarinder welcomed it as a “historic occasion”, which he also described as a “cherished desire of Sikhs around the world”, but said he would not be present for the ceremony across the border.

“[Pakistan’s spy agencies] ISI has started its nefarious activities within Punjab and since my government was sworn in, in March 2017, the state neutralized 19 ISI armed and controlled modules, apprehended 81 terrorists and recovered 79 weapons, in addition to numerous grenades made in Pakistan’s ordnance factories,” said Amarinder, referring to last week’s grenade attack on a Nirankari religious gathering in Amritsar.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the attack that killed three people. Police suspect the role of a Khalistani group backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“I hope the Pakistan Prime Minister will understand that in these circumstances it will not be possible for me to be present in Pakistan, despite the fact that paying my respects at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib has always been a cherished dream which will hopefully be fulfilled once these hostilities are stopped,” added Amarinder, who received the invitation from Qureshi on the behalf of PM Imran Khan.

But a minister in his state cabinet, Navjot Singh Sidhu, accepted the invitation “with unalloyed joy”.

“As our nations take this first step, the Kartarpur Spirit can make pilgrims of us all, venturing out on a journey that breaks the barriers of history and opens the borders of hearts and the mind,” he wrote in his letter to Qureshi.

Sidhu, on his last visit to Pakistan on August 18 to attend Khan’s swearing in ceremony, sparked a controversy after he hugged Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched an attack and the Punjab CM expressed unhappiness over his gesture, Sidhu justified his visit to Pakistan saying he went there as a messenger of peace and hugged the Pakistani army chief in an emotional response to the information provided by him that the neighbour country was working on the corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.

On Thursday, both India and Pakistan agreed to build corridor on their respective sides, to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in 2019. Welcoming the move, Amarinder had said the move will facilitate pilgrims desirous of visiting Kartarpur gurudwara. But the next day the government lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Sikh pilgrims visiting gurudwaras in Pakistan.

Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu will lay foundation stone in Dera Baba Nanak on Indian side on November 26. Amarinder will attend the function, in which his political rival Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will also be a present.

Union minister of state Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the SAD will attend the ceremony on the Pakistan side along with Union urban development minister Hardeep Puri.

First Published: Nov 25, 2018 23:34 IST

Israel holds major drill to practice fighting Hamas and Hezbollah simultaneously

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel holds major drill to practice fighting Hamas and Hezbollah simultaneously

Ongoing 10-day exercise by Commando Brigade tackles battling Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in north at the same time, a prospect military fears is liable to occur

  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade simulate fighting the Hezbollah terror group  in northern Israel in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade simulate fighting the Hezbollah terror group in northern Israel in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
    Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli military’s Commando Brigade launched a large-scale exercise this week to practice fighting the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip and the Hezbollah terrorist militia in Lebanon simultaneously, the army said Saturday. The drill is continuing into this week.

In the past, Israeli defense analysts have speculated that concerns over the prospect of a two-front war prevented the military from launching a major campaign in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from the coastal enclave.

The exercise, and the Israel Defense Forces’ publicity of it, appeared to serve as a message to the two terrorist groups that Israel was prepared for such an eventuality.

According to the military, the commando exercise began earlier this week and was expected to last 10 days. Soldiers from the Maglan, Egoz, and Duvdevan units took part in the drill.

It included significant cooperation with the Israeli Air Force, which both transported the commandos and carried out airstrikes alongside them.

“During the exercise, the brigade practiced fighting between different landscapes and arenas, combat in open fields and urban combat,” the army said.

The military said the purpose of the exercise was to improve the commando brigade’s preparedness for war. It was the unit’s sixth brigade-wide exercise since it was created in December 2015.

Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade simulate fighting the Hezbollah terror group in northern Israel in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot observed the exercise earlier this week.

During his visit, the head of the Commando Brigade Col. Kobi Heller told Eisenkot that his unit was “ready and prepared for any scenario in which it is needed and will stand up to any enemy in any arena.”

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, center, and other senior officers visit an IDF Commando Brigade exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, is believed to possess an arsenal of some 10,000 rockets and mortar shells. Israel has fought three wars with the terror group in the past decade, and has repeatedly been on the verge of a fourth over the past eight months as Hamas has led a campaign of border violence and occasional rocket and mortar fire at southern Israel.

Members of the Hamas terror group’s military wing attend the funeral of six of its fighters at a cemetery in the Deir al-Balah refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on May 6, 2018. (Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Earlier this month, the terror group, partnering with the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, launched some 500 rockets and mortar shells at Israel, killing one person and injuring dozens more.

In response, the Israeli military launched strikes against some 160 targets in the Gaza Strip connected to the two terror groups, killing seven people, most of whom were later identified as members of terrorist organizations, including some who were in the process of launching projectiles at Israel at the time they were killed.

The battle ended with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which has largely held since November 13, but with considerable criticism within Israel, including by former defense minister Avigdor Liberman, who resigned in protest of it, calling it “capitulation to terror.”

However, the IDF does not see Hamas as a serious military threat. Rather, the terror group is effectively allowed to remain in power as the Israeli government fears an even more extremist organization could take its place were it to be defeated.

The Iran-backed, Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist army, however, is considered by the military to be a significant strategic threat. With over 100,000 rockets and missiles in its arsenal, Hezbollah is seen by some defense analysts as more powerful than some Western militaries.

Fighters from the Hezbollah terror group are seen at a rally marking the 11th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, in the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon on August 13, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmoud Zayyat)

Israel fought a 34-day war with the terror group in Lebanon in 2006. Since then, the Lebanese border has been quieter than in the years preceding the conflict. However, Hezbollah has used the time to build up its arsenals considerably, with more precise and dangerous munitions, and has gained considerable experience and training by fighting alongside the Russian and Syrian militaries in the Syrian civil war in support of dictator Bashar Assad.

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Senator Corker mocks White House as ‘public relations firm’ for Saudi Crown Prince

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS)

 

Corker mocks White House as ‘public relations firm’ for Saudi crown prince

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Tuesday criticized the White House for acting like a “public relations firm” for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman after President Trump issued a statement defending U.S.-Saudi relations.

“I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Corker wrote in a retweet of Trump’s statement questioning whether the crown prince was responsible for the death of U.S.-based dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Corker, who is set to retire as chairman of the Foreign Relations panel at the end of the year, recently criticized the White House for not sharing intelligence about the details of Khashoggi’s murder. He was killed last month by a team of Saudi agents after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

The CIA recently concluded that Prince Mohammad was involved in the plan to kill Khashoggi based on an intercepted phone call and other evidence, according to multiple reports.

Trump, however, on Tuesday noted that King Salman and the crown prince have vigorously denied any knowledge of the planning or execution of Khashoggi’s murder.

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in his statement.

Corker was the third prominent Senate Republican to criticize Trump’s statement on Tuesday.

He called earlier this month for sanctions against Saudi Arabia that went beyond the punishments the Trump administration has leveled against the 17 Saudi agents found to be directly involved in Khashoggi’s murder.

Corker praised those individual sanctions as “a significant step in that process that hopefully will involve additional action as well.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate’s State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, earlier on Tuesday issued a statement warning Trump not to look past Saudi Arabia’s behavior.

“It is not in our national security interests to look the other way when it comes to the brutal murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Graham said in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon.

Graham argued Tuesday that the Senate should act by voting on sanctions legislation.

“I firmly believe there will be strong bipartisan support for serious sanctions against Saudi Arabia, including appropriate members of the royal family, for this barbaric act which defied all civilized norms,” he said in his statement.

“While Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, the behavior of the Crown Prince — in multiple ways — has shown disrespect for the relationship and made him, in my view, beyond toxic,” he added.

Graham is one of several Republican cosponsors of the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act, which would suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, prohibit U.S. planes from refueling Saudi coalition aircraft involved in the civil war in Yemen, and require a report on human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.

The other GOP cosponsors are Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), members of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), another member of the Foreign Relations Committee, earlier on Tuesday criticized Trump’s statement as promoting a “Saudi Arabia First” policy instead of an “America First” doctrine, as the president claimed.

Paul has called for a vote on legislation blocking an arms sale to Saudi Arabia that Trump has valued at $110 billion.

 

Amritsar grenade attack could be ‘terrorist act’, say Punjab police

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS AGENCY)

 

Amritsar grenade attack could be ‘terrorist act’, say Punjab police

Three persons were killed and at least 10 injured in a grenade attack on a religious congregation on the city outskirts on Sunday, police said.

INDIA Updated: Nov 18, 2018 17:13 IST

Amritsar Bomb blast,bomb blast in Amritsar,blast in Amritsar
Police inspect the site of blast at the Nirankari Bhawan, where two men on a motorcycle threw a grenade during a religious congregation, in Adliwal village near Amritsar, Punjab, Sunday, Nov 18, 2018.(PTI)

Punjab police said Sunday the grenade attack on a religious congregation on the outskirts of Amritsar city appears to be a “terrorist act”.

“It (this incident) appears to have a terror angle. Because it is against a group (of people) and it is not against any individual. There is no reason to throw a hand grenade on a group of people, so we will take it as a terrorist act. Till proven otherwise, prima facie we will take it as that,” Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora told PTI.

To a question, the DGP said there was no specific input about any possible attack on Nirankari Bhavan.

“There was no issue with this group as such… There was no specific input on (Nirankari Bhavan),” he said.

Three persons were killed and at least 10 injured in a grenade attack on a religious congregation on the city outskirts on Sunday, police said.

The attack took place inside the Nirankari Bhavan at Adliwal village near Amritsar’s Rajasansi, close to the international airport, police said.

A religious congregation of the Nirankari sect was being conducted inside the Bhavan at the time of the incident.

“A grenade was lobbed and three people have died in the incident while 10 have been injured in the incident, two of them critically,” Inspector General of Police S S Parmar, who visited the incident spot, told reporters.

He said about 200 devotees were inside at the time of the attack. No CCTV camera was installed at the premises, preliminary investigations found, he said.

“We have launched relief and rescue operations,” he said.

After the attack, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reviewed the law and order situation and directed the Home Secretary, DGP (Law and Order) and DG Intelligence to rush to Rajasansi to supervise investigations.

First Published: Nov 18, 2018 17:00 IST

Death toll from Mogadishu bombings climbs to 41

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS OF INDIA)

 

Death toll from Mogadishu bombings climbs to 41

Twin car bombs exploded within moments of each other, followed by gunfire and a third blast near a popular hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky.

WORLD Updated: Nov 11, 2018 12:00 IST

Mogadishu bombings,Mogadishu,Somali capital
People rescue a wounded person following three blasts of suicide bomb car attacks in Mogadishu on November 9, 2018.(AFP Photo)

The death toll from a series of car bombings near a popular hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu has jumped to at least 41, police said on Saturday.

Friday’s attack was the latest in a wave of bombings by Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate which has been fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed Somali government for over a decade.

Twin car bombs exploded within moments of each other, followed by gunfire and a third blast, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky.

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed said that information received from various hospitals indicated that the number of dead had reached 41, with another 106 wounded.

“Most of these people were civilians and nearly 20 of them died in minibuses that were passing by the road when the blast occurred,” he added.

Another security official, Abdirahman Osman, told AFP that nearly 50 had been confirmed dead so far, although the final number was not yet known.

Officials on Friday had put the death toll at about 20.

First Published: Nov 10, 2018 20:55 IST

Republicans Are Only For White Males: Democrats For Everyone Except White Males?

Republicans Are Only For White Males: Democrats For Everyone Except White Males?

 

For those who are reading this article and are unaware of it, I am a 62-year-old white man who lives in the state of Kentucky, I also am a registered Independent when it comes to politics. So, this article to you today is simply my opinion, nothing more, nothing less. A person comes to their opinions mostly through life’s experiences and I am simply giving you mine at this time. In my life I have voted for several Republicans and for several Democrats as well as for people from various Independent movements. I like some of the things that each of the two main Parties stand for, at least on paper, and I am against several things that each of those Parties stand behind.

 

During my years I have come across racism from several people. I have been hated on sight because I am a white man and I absolutely have no doubt about that statement, yet I have also had people of many races stand up for me and against people of their own race because of me. Being one skin color of another should have nothing to do with how you act or are viewed, yet often, it does. I have to admit that I have been a bit surprised by the amount of racism some White folks who have shown since the Electoral College elected Donald Trump as our President, and it does sadden me. I try to be a devout Christian everyday of my life (though I fail often) but I am sure that G-d The Father and G-d The Son are not racists. I am 100% sure that if a person hates another because of their skin color, they are not a Christian, they are nothing but “luke warm water,” at best.

 

When former President Obama was the President from 2009-2017 I used to often hear about the “angry White Males.” Honestly I did not know just how many and how deep this hatred is and it greatly saddens me as a person and as a Christian.  Often I heard this philosophy and when I did it always seemed to generate from GOP affiliated mouth pieces. I know that there is racism all over the world it is not something that is exclusive to North America Americans, nor only to some Republicans. Obviously about 50% of white folks are women and it is my belief that many White Women who voted for Mr. Trump will either not vote in the midterm election next Tuesday, or they will vote against the GOP because they have seen the hate coming out of the mouth of Mr. Trump and many other GOP Politicians since they took total power in January of 2017.

 

Unfortunately it appears that many people and Politicians who are Democrats and Democratic mouth pieces have seemed to be hating the White Males for many years. Too me, it has seemed that the leadership of the Democratic Party has for many years been working hard at becoming the party of ‘only’ the minorities. Too me, it has felt that the Democratic Leadership has worked hard to be inclusive to all people, except White People, especially the men. Our Nation, or any Nation, cannot survive if its core is poisoned and all racism is poison. I have heard this quote several times during my years and it is true that “great Nations are not usually conquered from the outside, they are conquered from the inside” and I do believe that is true of America also.

 

There are two main reasons that I have ever voted for a Republican and against a Democrat and neither have anything to do with race, nationality, or someone’s religion. These two issues are Abortion and Gun laws, as a Christian I cannot and will not condone what I believe to be blatant murder of babies. Regarding guns, I am for a 3-5 day waiting period when purchasing a firearm and I do believe that the loophole of Gun Shows needs to be closed. But I do believe in everyone has the right to defend themselves and their families by any means necessary. Here in Kentucky almost all people can open carry without a special permit and folks like myself who have taken weapons classes can conceal carry. When I do go into a business with a weapon in a gun belt no one has ever freaked out, not other customers or the workers, not even the workers at the cash registers. I know that these people look at this issue the same as I do, if anything, I am extra free security for the business I am in. Folks something that the Democratic Party does not seem to understand or even care about is why almost all people should be allowed to have firearms if they so choose and that is defense, not offense. People need to notice that gunmen go to places to shoot people where they know there will be no guns to shoot back at them, these people are cowards. When was the last time you saw a Police Station or a Donut Shop shot up? Folks, the times are coming where the people have to be able to defend themselves from crooked government officials and crooked policing agencies. The time is coming where the people need to be able to defend themselves from invasions from other Nations and the time is very close where we all need to be able to defend ourselves from terrorists, homegrown and otherwise. Well, that is all for now friends, I hope that you are able to enjoy your weekend, stay warm, stay safe, G-d’s blessings I wish to all of you.

At Least 8 Dead At Pittsburgh Synagogue Execution, Many Injured

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

(THOUGH I HAVE LITTLE TO NO FAITH IN PRESIDENT TRUMP AS A PERSON OR AS A LEADER HE IS STILL SOMETIMES CORRECT ON THE ISSUES FACING ALL OF US IN OUR DAILY LIVES, THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES. SHOOTERS LIKE THIS ALWAYS GO TO TARGETS WHERE THEY KNOW THAT THERE WILL BE NO GUNS AVAILABLE TO SHOOT BACK AT THEM. THINK ABOUT IT, SYNAGOGUES, CHURCHES, SCHOOLS. THESE ARE SHOOTINGS DONE BY PURE COWARDS, THEY ARE CALLED SOFT TARGETS.) (THIS COMMENT IN RED IS BY TRUTHTROUBLES.WORDPRESS.COM ,OLDPOET56) 

Trump says Pittsburgh shooting has ‘little’ to do with gun laws, armed guard could have prevented tragedy

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump responded to the shooting in Pittsburgh, which left at least eight dead inside a synagogue, telling reporters that an armed guard could have prevented the tragedy.

As Trump boarded Air Force 1 heading to Indianapolis, he told reporters he was monitoring the events unfolding near the Tree of Life Synagogue and said “something has to be done.”

But, Trump rebuffed questions about whether now was the time to examine gun laws.

“This has little to do with it if you take a look,” Trump said on gun laws. He continued, explaining armed guard could have prevented the tragedy.

“If they had protection inside the results would have been far better,” the president said. “Maybe it could have been a very much different situation.”

Police have a man in custody after the attack, which left at least eight dead and multiple people injured, including four police officers. Multiple media, including CNN, CBS and KDKA, identified the shooter as Robert Bowers.

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Teams of armed police swarmed the Squirrel Hill neighborhood near downtown Pittsburgh just before 10 a.m. Saturday. Residents were urged to shelter in place as armed law enforcement agents canvassed the neighborhood.

More: What we know about the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

More: Shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue: Politicians, local leaders react to tragedy

Pittsburgh television station KDKA-TV and NBC reported that eight people have been killed and a number of others injured at Tree of Life synagogue. A male suspect has surrendered to police and three police officers were also reportedly shot, according to KDKA-TV.

Trump said he was monitoring the shooting and said the U.S. needed to “stiffen up” its death penalty laws.

“They should pay the ultimate price,” Trump said. “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world. And something has to be done.”

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