This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them. Farewell!. (CTsT)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The devastation wrought by the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history grows daily. As of Thursday, the deaths totalled 729 deaths in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but it’s far from over; ”Ebola is worsening in West Africa,” CDC director Tom Frieden said not once, or twice, but three times on Thursday.

Infectious disease experts are mobilizing, borders are shutting down, and, despite the fact that there is no cure for Ebola haemorrhagic fever (the illness caused by Ebola virus infection), health care officials are trying anything they can to help the stricken—especially those who put themselves at risk to save others. That means digging deep into the list of experimental methods the WHO, CDC and others have developed over the past few years to cure the deadly viral infection—including a simple but controversial therapy called immune plasma infusion.

729ebola04

In Monrovia, Liberia, 33-year old Dr. Kent Brantly of Forth Worth, Texas had been treating Ebola patients since June, as part of an international relief group called Samaritan’s Purse. But in mid-July, Brantly recognized that he himself was showing symptoms of Ebola. He isolated himself, and told the rest of the team of his suspicions; soon after, his diagnosis was confirmed.

On Thursday Brantly was given a shot at survival: a 14-year-old male Ebola patient who had been under Brantly’s care, and survived, donated a “unit of blood” to Brantly, according to Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham. “The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor that saved his life.”

The idea—novel, though not unprecedented—is that the blood (plasma, in medical parlance) of a survivor, full of antibodies proven to be strong enough to fight off the disease (i.e., immune), when transfused into an infected body, might help that body become immune itself. Though it sounds a bit like something Hollywood might have cooked up, there’s some science behind it—and an historical precedent that offers hope.

By the time Robert Colebunders arrived in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo (known as Zaire at the time), on June 15 of 1995, the Ebola virus had ravaged the city of 250,000 and the neighboring area for nearly 6 months. The hospitals in the riverport town were empty; patients and healthcare workers had fled to other parts of the country for fear of contracting the deadly disease, which would ultimately affect 317 people and kill 245.

Eventually, the Kikwit Ebola outbreak was traced back to January 1995, but it wasn’t until the start of May of that year that local public health officials recognized the many sick patients in the area as victims of the infectious disease. On May 8th, the Zairian government officially declared the epidemic, asking the World Health Organization to mobilize international assistance. Soon after, infectious disease experts arrived from the WHO, the CDC, Doctors Without Borders, the South African Medical Institute, the Red Cross, and Belgium’s Institute of Tropical Medicine—which sent Colebunders.

Immediately, the team went to work to contain the disease.

“We rapidly began talking to local leaders, quickly helping create an understanding in the population that an intervention was needed,” says Colebunders. The team established a surveillance network to identify and isolate patients who were suspected to have Ebola, and distributed protective equipment that gave local health care workers the ability—and the confidence—to safely work with the infected.

“We buried the dead bodies ourselves,” says Colebunders, working with Red Cross volunteers. Not just the known Ebola victims, either; every dead body in the area. The traditional burial rituals in the area involve family members cleaning the dead body, mourners coming to touch and kiss the body, and even keeping hair and nail as souvenirs. “If its not done in the right way, they think the ghost of the person will do them some harm,” says Colebunders. They had to convince them to put the bodies in plastic bags, a hard sell anywhere. “Putting your loved one in a plastic body bag is really not acceptable. That’s for your trash,” Colebunders says. “You need to help them understand.”

It worked: soon enough, reports of newly infected patients petered out. They were near declaring victory.

Then, in the last days, a nurse at Kikwit General Hospital, who had volunteered to care for a pair of Ebola-infected Italian nuns, developed symptoms of Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

“The rest of the team became concerned,” says Colebunders, and some of the medical professionals there who had suffered through and survived an earlier infection (“convalescent patients” in the literature) wanted to donate some of their blood to the nurse. “The Americans and Scientists from the States didnt believe it could work,” says Colebunders, but the Congolese doctors did it anyway. The same blood transfusion procedure was repeated for seven others who were ill, the final group of Ebola-stricken patients in the hospital.

The results were staggering: seven of the eight survived.

Typically, Ebola is almost unbelievably deadly, historically killing almost 90 percent of those it infects. It’s “very dramatic and even preternatural,” says David Quammen, a journalist and author of Spillover, a book documenting the impact of zoonotic diseases like Ebola. “It kills people quickly and it kills a high proportion of the people it infects.” The Kikwit case study (which would go on to be published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases) showed an almost 90 percent survival rate.

There’s precedent for this treatment approach, too. “We use this in other infectious diseases, and we can—and should—use that experience and apply it to Ebola,” says Heinrich Feldmann, the head of the National Institute of Health’s Laboratory of Virology. In Argentina, for example, infection of the Junin virus is often (and effectively) treated with blood transfusions from a Junin survivor.

So, why hasn’t the CDC, the WHO and the rest of the public health organizations worldwide jumped all over immune plasma infusion for Ebola? Why are we still scrambling for an Ebola treatment 20 years later?

The answer is that it has been essentially impossible to test. Why? Because Ebola only pops up occasionally, infects a relative few, and kills most. There’s no way, says Feldmann, to get enough plasma during an outbreak to treat others involved in that same outbreak. “Of course if you are collecting plasma now for the next outbreak, then you will have the time to do it,” Feldmann adds, though he is unaware of anyone collecting plasma during the current West African outbreak.

At least, until the unnamed 14-year-old boy, who, of his own accord, is about to become a key piece of the second test case in 20 years for what could be the treatment we’ve all been waiting for.

“We clearly need more effective ways to treat these patients and to protect health care workers,” says Colebunders. “Confronted with such a deadly disease, it is time to consider the use of experimental vaccines and treatments as compassionate use.”

* By  , 8/1/14 (Newsweek)

This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them. Farewell!. (CTsT) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

A photo of a desperate young Palestinian boy, badly wounded and screaming for his father as he clutches at the shirt of a paramedic in a hospital, has captured the tragic and bloody tension of the Gazan conflict.

article-2699772-1FD636ED00000578-741_964x652

Shirtless and with cuts to his face, torso, arms and legs, the child clings to the hospital worker who is attempting to lay him flat on a girdle.

The Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian publication, reports the photo, taken at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City last Thursday, was captioned with the boy’s desperate cry: ‘I want my father, bring me my father’, according to Fairfax.

article-2698878-1FD0332C00000578-529_964x675

The Palestinian paper claims the young boy was one of four siblings brought to the hospital wounded, two of them just three years old.

article-2698878-1FD0BD5900000578-350_964x630

 

It comes as grinning Israeli tank commanders were pictured flashing the victory signs as they blast their way through Gaza in the bloodiest day of the offensive so far – as one resident of the troubled region said: ‘The gate of hell has opened.’

article-2698878-1FD0BD6500000578-20_964x606

At least 65 people have been killed since this yesterday’s dawn strike on Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood – including the son, daughter-in-law and two small grandchildren of a senior Hamas leader.

article-2698878-1FD1CAED00000578-282_964x615

Hamas says it has captured an Israeli soldier – a scenario that has proven to be fraught with difficulties for the country in the past – but Israel’s U.N. Ambassador has denied the claims.

article-2698878-1FD0901D00000578-772_964x653

The neighbourhood has come under heavy tank fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas, causing hundreds of residents to flee.

article-2698878-1FD02FEC00000578-309_964x616 article-2698878-1FD199E900000578-366_964x683

The dead and wounded – including dozens of women and children – have reportedly been left in streets, with ambulances unable to approach.

article-2698878-1FD1CB2200000578-964_964x633

Source: (July 21, 2014)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699772/This-desperate-little-boy-face-tragedy-Palestinian-toddler-clutches-shirt-hospital-worker-screaming-I-want-father-bring-father.html?ito=social-facebook

WASHINGTON (AP) – Maybe a higher minimum wage isn’t so bad for job growth after all.

The 13 U.S. states that raised their minimum wages at the beginning of this year are adding jobs at a faster pace than those that did not, providing some counter-intuitive fuel to the debate over what impact a higher minimum has on hiring trends.

Many business groups argue that raising the minimum wage discourages job growth by increasing the cost of hiring. A Congressional Budget Office report earlier this year lent some support for that view. It found that a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, as President Obama supports, could cost 500,000 jobs nationwide.

10486969_718295151539924_8786778326732780660_n

But the state-by-state hiring data, released Friday by the Labor Department, provides ammunition to those who disagree. Economists who support a higher minimum say the figures are encouraging, though they acknowledge they don’t establish a cause and effect. There are many possible reasons hiring might accelerate in a particular state.

“It raises serious questions about the claims that a raise in the minimum wage is a jobs disaster,” said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. The job data “isn’t definitive,” he added, but is “probably a reasonable first cut at what’s going on.”

Just last week, Obama cited the better performance by the 13 states in support of his proposal for boosting the minimum wage nationwide.

“When … you raise the minimum wage, you give a bigger chance to folks who are climbing the ladder, working hard…. And the whole economy does better, including businesses,” Obama said in Denver.

In the 13 states that boosted their minimums at the beginning of the year, the number of jobs grew an average of 0.85 percent from January through June. The average for the other 37 states was 0.61 percent.

Nine of the 13 states increased their minimum wages automatically in line with inflation: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Four more states – Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island – approved legislation mandating the increases.

Twelve of those states have seen job growth this year, while employment in Vermont has been flat. The number of jobs in Florida has risen 1.6 percent this year, the most of the 13 states with higher minimums. Its minimum rose to $7.93 an hour from $7.79 last year.

Some economists argue that six months of data isn’t enough to draw conclusions.

“It’s too early to tell,” said Stan Veuger, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “These states are very different along all kinds of dimensions.”

For example, the number of jobs in North Dakota – which didn’t raise the minimum wage and has prospered because of a boom in oil and gas drilling – rose 2.8 percent since the start of this year, the most of any state.

But job growth in the aging industrial state of Ohio was just 0.7 percent after its minimum rose to $7.95 from $7.85. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

Veuger, one of the 500 economists who signed a letter in March opposed to an increase in the federal minimum, said the higher wages should over time cause employers to hire fewer workers. They may also replace them with new technologies.

The Congressional Budget Office cited those factors in its February report. But in addition to job losses, the CBO also said a higher minimum could boost paychecks for another 16.5 million workers.

Sylvia Allegretto, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, said that research comparing counties in states that raised their minimums with neighboring counties in states that did not has found no negative impact on employment.

Restaurants and other low-wage employers may have other ways of offsetting the cost of higher wages, aside from cutting back on hiring, she said. Higher pay can reduce staff turnover and save on hiring and training costs.

State and local governments have become increasingly active on the issue as the federal minimum wage has remained unchanged for five years. Twenty-two states currently have higher minimums than the federal requirement.

And 38 states have considered minimum wage legislation this year, the most on record, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 16 will boost their minimums starting next year, the NCSL says.

____

AP Economics Writer Josh Boak contributed to this report, July 19, 2014

He’s had a busy summer. As God only knows, he was summoned to slaughter in the Holy Land, asked to end the killings of Muslims by Buddhist monks in Myanmar, and played both sides again in the 1,400-year-old dispute over the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad.

In between, not much down time. Yes, the World Cup was fun, and God chose to mess with His Holinesses, pitting the team from Pope Francis’s Argentina against Germany, home of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Well played, even if the better pope lost.

10458771_718648958171210_6758578782394949747_n

At least Rick Perry was not his usual time-suck. The governor proclaimed three days of prayer to end the Texas drought in 2011, saying, “I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God, and say, ‘God: You’re going to have to fix this.’ ” The drought got worse. Two years ago, Perry said that God had not “changed his mind” about same-sex marriage. But the states have. Since Perry became a spokesman for the deity, the map of legalized gay marriage in America has expanded by 50 percent.

Still, these are pillow feathers in a world weighted down with misery. God is on a rampage in 2014, a bit like the Old Testament scourge who gave direct instructions to people to kill one another.

It’s not true that all wars are fought in the name of religion, as some atheists assert. Of 1,723 armed conflicts documented in the three-volume “Encyclopedia of Wars,” only 123, or less than 7 percent, involved a religious cause. Hitler’s genocide, Stalin’s bloody purges and Pol Pot’s mass murders certainly make the case that state-sanctioned killings do not need the invocation of a higher power to succeed.

But this year, the ancient struggle of My God versus Your God is at the root of dozens of atrocities, giving pause to the optimists among us (myself included) who believe that while the arc of enlightenment is long, it still bends toward the better.

In the name of God and hate, Sunnis are killing Shiites in Iraq, and vice versa. A jihadist militia, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, boasts of beheading other Muslims while ordering women to essentially live in caves, faces covered, minds closed. The two sides of a single faith have been sorting it out in that blood-caked land, with long periods of peace, since the year 632. Don’t expect it to end soon. A majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are peaceful, but a Pew Survey found that 40 percent of Sunnis do not think Shiites are proper Muslims.

Elsewhere, a handful of failed states are seeing carnage over some variant of the seventh-century dispute. And the rage that moved Hamas to lob rockets on birthday parties in Tel Aviv, and Israelis to kill children playing soccer on the beach in Gaza, has its roots in the spiritual superiority of extremists on both sides.

The most horrific of the religion-inspired zealots may be Boko Haram in Nigeria. As is well known thanks to a feel-good and largely useless Twitter campaign, 250 girls were kidnapped by these gangsters for the crime of attending school. Boko Haram’s God tells them to sell the girls into slavery.

The current intra-religious fights are not to be confused with people who fly airplanes into buildings, or shoot up innocents while shouting “God is great.” But those killers most assuredly believed that their reward for murder is heaven.

“It’s not true that all wars are fought in the name of religion, as some atheists assert.”Which atheists assert that? I’ve certainly never…

Of late, God has taken a long break from Ireland, such a small country for such a big fight between worshipers under the same cross. There, the animus is not so much theological as it is historical. If the curious Muslim is wondering why Protestants and Catholics can’t just get along on that lovely island, take a look at the Thirty Years’ War of the 17th century, when about 20 percent of the population of present-day Germany fell to clashes between the two branches of Christianity.
Violent Buddhist mobs (yes, it sounds oxymoronic) are responsible for a spate of recent attacks against Muslims in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, leaving more than 200 dead and close to 150,000 homeless. The clashes prompted the Dalai Lama to make an urgent appeal to end the bloodshed. “Buddha preaches love and compassion,” he said.

And so do Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The problem is that people of faith often become fanatics of faith. Reason and force are useless against aspiring martyrs.

In the United States, God is on the currency. By brilliant design, though, he is not mentioned in the Constitution. The founders were explicit: This country would never formally align God with one political party, or allow someone to use religion to ignore civil laws. At least that was the intent. In this summer of the violent God, five justices on the Supreme Court seem to feel otherwise.

 

* Timothy Egan, NYT, July 18, 2014

People will take selfies just about anywhere nowadays – even at concentration camps.

Mitchell tweeted “Selfie in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp” with a picture of herself smiling at the largest Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

10424365_10152550688729449_7953265296842180541_n

The photo was posted on June 20, but it gained national attention on Sunday when it became a trending topic on Twitter.

Within the past 24 hours, there have been 2,175 tweets mentioning the photo, according to Topsy, a social media analytics firm. Overall, Mitchell’s original tweet has drawn more than 2,500 retweets and 1,400 favorites. 

Originally, Mitchell said she wished people would stop tweeting about the photo.

“Omg I wish people would quit tweeting to, quoting, retweeting, and favoriting my picture of my smiling in Auschwitz Concentration Camp,” Mitchell tweeted. “Like apparently is such a big deal that I smiled. Good Lord.”

But shortly after, she seemed to be enjoying the Internet fame. She has retweeted more than 150 people who supported her decision to take the selfie. 

The picture wasn’t supposed to get this much attention, Mitchell explained to her Twitter followers on Sunday.

However, she doesn’t seem to mind.

“I’m famous yall,” Mitchell tweeted, referencing an article on Business Insider about the viral tweet.

According to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum’s website, visitors are allowed to take pictures on the grounds – with the exception of a hall that contains the hair of victims, the basements of Block 11 and the gas chamber.

Mitchell claims she took the photo after studying the Holocaust for years with her dad, who died a year ago.

“That trip actually meant something to me and I was happy about it,” she tweeted, explaining the reasoning behind the smiling selfie.

* Jenny Earl,Newsday,  July20, 2014

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on the latest developments surrounding the July 17 Boeing 777 catastrophe in Ukraine’s Donetsk Region, in which Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was apparently shot down near the town of Shakhtarsk in an area controlled by pro-autonomy militias.

RIAN_02465155.HR_468

The Kommersant daily points out that the Malaysia Airlines disaster has not stopped the fighting between government troops and pro-autonomy militias in the east of Ukraine: A ceasefire is in place only in a small area at and in the vicinity of the crash site. A complete ceasefire covering the whole of the east of the country could not be agreed, the paper writes. Experts polled by Kommersant say that the military operation by Ukrainian troops is “not proceeding as successfully as commanders’ reports would indicate.” The main difficulties, according to the paper, have arisen along the southern section of the front, “where Kiev hopes to achieve the final victory.”

190990280

As a result of actions by the pro-autonomy militias, the Ukrainian force that tried to cut the self-proclaimed republics off from the border with Russia has itself been surrounded, Kommersant continues. The surrounded troops could be saved by a ceasefire along all sections of the front, which the militia commanders also realize. “That is probably why they have so far rejected all appeals for a lasting and comprehensive ceasefire voiced by the Ukrainian side and international mediators,” the paper concludes. Nezavisimaya Gazeta “The world is on the brink of the largest political crisis of recent decades,” reads an editorial in the centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. The paper describes the downing of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet as “a prelude to the start of a new cold war.”

RTR3Z3YK_468

The paper points out that the facts available so far indicate that there are Buk surface-to-air missile systems in the conflict zone on both sides of the Ukrainian-Russian border. However, these systems are capable of hitting air targets only within a range of 50 km. “Since the downed Boeing fell on Ukrainian territory 50 km from the Ukrainian-Russian border, one can rule out that it was hit from Russian territory,” the paper says. It goes on to add that Kiev does not deny that Ukrainian Buk systems have been deployed on the Ukrainian-Russian border: The Ukrainian air defense systems were probably intended to counter possible aerial reconnaissance from the Russian side. Therefore the Malaysian Boeing may have been mistaken for a Russian Air Force aircraft, writes Nezavisimaya Gazeta. In addition, the paper continues, it is unlikely that pro-autonomy militants could have operated a Buk system as it requires specialist training and experience.

190990329

Most of the experts polled by NG conclude that the airliner was downed by mistake. “It is likely that this attack was not agreed with the senior leadership, who are now being caused immense stress by the possibility that the truth may be established. Support for those who murder civilians leaves no political chances for a reputation on an international scale,” the paper concludes. Expert  The Expert magazine gives a detailed account of the search operation at the crash site. It also points out that the UN Security Council is expected to vote in the near future on a draft resolution condemning the destruction of the Boeing 777.

190991471

The draft resolution, Expert continues, does not only call for “a comprehensive, thorough and independent international investigation in compliance with civil aviation standards” but also lists requirements for the pro-autonomy militias, urging them “to refrain from any actions that could jeopardize the crash site”. For their part, the magazine adds, the militiamen of the Donetsk People’s Republic have for three days now been guarding the crash scene and ensuring the safety of the OSCE observers working at the site. Vzglyad Experts polled by the Vzglyad newspaper claim that “senior figures in Ukraine and the West are using pseudo-facts surrounding the Malaysian Boeing crash.” The investigation into the downing of the Malaysian airliner is not yet over, the paper continues, but the alleged intercepted phone calls between pro-autonomy militiamen that have been posted on the internet have given the leadership of Ukraine and other countries cause to blame what happened on the militias and Russia.

AP19901047261_468

Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that “the White House, demanding an inquiry into the tragedy, is criticizing Moscow, which, in its view, has continuously aggravated the conflict in southeast Ukraine, supported the separatists, training and arming them.” According to the newspaper, the general opinion in the U.S. is that the missile was fired either by the militias or by Russian soldiers. The newspaper notes that America is not blaming Kiev, and that Ukraine has announced that in the entire conflict it has not fired any missiles capable of hitting a plane at a 33,000-foot altitude.

Gazeta.ru says that the most likely explanation for the airplane crash in eastern Ukraine was the BUK anti-aircraft missile, which is the most powerful means of anti-aircraft defense, one that Ukraine inherited from the USSR and that has recently come into the militia’s possession. The newspaper analyzes the weapon’s technical characteristics in depth: The BUK anti-aircraft missile is one of Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport’s most popular products. Gazeta.ru says that the missiles are sold in all CIS countries that used them in Soviet times.

190989654

 

Today the missiles are also used in countries such as Syria and Afghanistan. According to the publication, the missile system’s technical specifics allow it to hit a target at an altitude of up to 82,000 feet. Moreover, the system is mobile: It can be packed up in five minutes. “Qualified specialists are required to take aim with this system. In their hands the BUK can hit a target even at a distance of 40 kilometers [130,000 feet],” says Gazeta.ru. While the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk has been saying that it lacks the weapons needed to shoot down a plane at such a high altitude, officials from the neighboring “People’s Republic” of Lugansk proposed another theory: the Malaysian Boeing 777 was shot down by the Ukrainian SU-25 jet, which was later shot down by the militias. However, the maximum altitude of the SU-25 is 16,500 feet, which makes this an unlikely version of events, says Gazeta.ru. Vzglyad Vzglyad newspaper emphasizes that the “airplane fell precisely in the area of the most intense fighting between the Donetsk militias and the Ukrainian Army.

The Ukrainian government blames the militias for the anti-aircraft tragedy. However, arguments blaming the Ukrainian soldiers are more convincing, says the publication. Vzglyad notes that the Ukrainian press has already blamed the Donbass militias for the crash, saying that recently they have shot down two Ukrainian Air Force transportation planes. Moreover, the newspaper says that the BUK is a semiautomatic system, and human participation is minimal. “Therefore the militias could have easily mastered the technology, since they have people who worked with this system while serving in the Soviet and then the Ukrainian army,” Vzglyad suggests.

 

 

190991486

Malaysia Airlines plane crashes in Donetsk Region If it is so, then it is no longer the militias fighting the Ukrainian Air Force with anti-aircraft missiles that are the cause of the event, but rather “the western governments, who are encouraging Kiev to ‘establish order’ in eastern Ukraine, the newspaper believes. Military expert and editor-in-chief of National Defense magazine Igor Korotchenko suggests that “due to the personnel’s low qualification and miscalculations, the operator either accidentally or unintentionally launched the missile that shot down the Boeing.” Furthermore, Vzglyad’s expert says that earlier there was information of the militias having captured several BUK anti-aircraft missile launchers, yet officially the Ukrainian government announced that they were faulty and therefore had been intentionally removed from combat by the Ukrainian soldiers.

Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines – http://rbth.com/international/2014/07/18/press_digest_reaction_to_the_malaysia_airlines_disaster_in_ukra_38325.html)

 

Israeli ground forces waded into Gaza’s most densely populated city for the first time in nearly two weeks of fighting, destroying tunnels and drawing heavy fire from Hamas militants in the deadliest day of fighting for both sides since the conflict began.

Israel said 13 soldiers were killed and Gaza officials said 96 Palestinians were killed Sunday, including 60 in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shajaiyeh where the battle of the tunnels was fought. It was also the highest toll for Israeli soldiers in a single day since a brief war with the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah in 2006, according to military records.

Hamas’s military wing also claimed it captured an Israeli soldier. Israel said it was checking on the claim.

BN-DT697_0720ga_G_20140720173541

Two American citizens who were soldiers for the Israel Defense Force were among the 13 killed. “We can confirm the deaths of U.S. citizens Max Steinberg and Sean Carmeli in Gaza,” Jen Psaki, State Department spokeswoman, said late Sunday.

Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza on Thursday night with a high priority on destroying a network of cross-border tunnels that militants use to infiltrate Israel. On Saturday, Palestinians entered Israel through one of those tunnels and killed two soldiers.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been initially reluctant to send in ground forces for fear the military would suffer heavy casualties.

The Israeli attack began with predawn drone strikes and artillery shelling followed by small-arms fire and the sound of Israeli fighter jets whooshing overhead. The Israelis came under fire from antitank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades launched from densely populated neighborhoods, the military said.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, described the battles as “heavy fighting and close combat.”

Mr. Netanyahu vowed that attacks would go on.

“We will complete what they began and return quiet to Israel,” he told relatives of the dead soldiers.

The violence set off a panicked exodus of thousands of civilians from Shajaiyeh. Bodies were carted to a morgue while hundreds of onlookers uttered mourning chants.

In Israel, anthems for the dead soldiers played on the radio on a day when the toll surpassed the combined number of soldiers killed in the last two military conflicts with Hamas in 2008-9 and 2012.

The U.S. said Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Cairo on Monday to try to work out a cease-fire. President Barack Obama, speaking to Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday morning in their second phone call in three days, “raised serious concern about the growing number of casualties, including increasing Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza and the loss of Israeli soldiers,” the White House said.

The United Nations Security Council late Sunday called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and expressed “serious concern at the escalation of violence,” calling for the protection of civilians under international humanitarian law. The council also said it was troubled by the growing number of casualties. It backed efforts by Egypt and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who arrived in the region on Sunday, to broker a cease-fire deal.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said more than 425 Palestinians have been killed, including 112 children, and 3,000 wounded since fighting began. The United Nations said about three-fourths of the Palestinian casualties have been civilians. The Israeli military said it had killed at least 70 militants since the ground invasion.

WO-AT069_ISPAL_G_20140720182706

“It’s like a metro, an underground” connecting weapons-manufacturing and storage sites to passageways beneath the Israeli border about 2 miles away, said Lt. Col. Lerner. “I would describe it as a lower Gaza City.” He said the army found openings in Shajaiyeh to 10 tunnel shafts leading to the underground network. The army entered the area with infantry, artillery and armored units, he said, expecting strong resistance.

“Our assessment and plan of action suggested they were planning to meet the army on the battlefield,” he said. “We are taking the battle to them. We don’t want it in our backyard.” Israel had warned civilians in Shajaiyeh to evacuate their homes days ago, Lt. Col Lerner said.

Israel has accused Hamas of shielding its fighters and weapons amid densely populated civilian areas, saying because of this, the group is largely to blame for civilian casualties.

“Unfortunately, there are civilian casualties which we regret and don’t seek,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

Umm Rajab Helles, a mother of 12, described the first hours of the clashes.

“We’ve been attacked for almost two weeks but it was never this fierce,” she said, recounting how she huddled with her family inside her ground floor apartment.

“It was so tense every time there was a blast that the children would run to the door out of fear and we’d have to pull them back.”

Nearby, Umm Atta Said was inside a storage room of a clothing and mattress store along the neighborhood’s commercial strip. For 12 days, she said, the dark and cramped space was “the safest place” in Gaza.

Suddenly that wasn’t the case.

“There were blasts every minute,” she said. “It didn’t stop for four hours.” The buzz of drones was followed by sounds of missile strikes, the dull thud of artillery and the sound of rifle fire.

“It was closer than we had ever felt it and we were in complete darkness.”

BN-DT629_ispal0_G_20140720020205

Among the Israeli soldiers were two men from the Golani infantry brigade entering a neighborhood they didn’t know. Their orders were to establish a command center at a house they had secured as artillery fire boomed around them, said Vered Kerber, whose brother Doron had been sent. But Palestinian fighters were soon upon them, she said.

“They were told the area was clean,” she said. “But it wasn’t clean.”

The fighters buffeted the house with mortar fire for hours. They launched an antitank rocket at it.

“The entire wall collapsed on them, and [my brother] was injured by rock debris,” said Shay Vaknin whose brother Daniel suffered a concussion.

The would-be command center was abandoned after its commander was killed and several other soldiers were critically wounded. The soldiers fled as fighters launched mortars at them in a prolonged and treacherous retreat. The two men made it back to Israel.

“It’s a miracle. I feel like an angel was watching over him,” said Ms. Kerber, whose brother lay on a hospital bed in Ashkelon holding a small book of Psalms.

As day broke, following hours of nonstop fighting, residents began considering what been an impossibility at night—leaving their homes.

For Ms. Said, the decision was obvious. “The shelling reached us and we couldn’t stay.”

At approximately 6 a.m., she said, she and her husband, gathered their children and nothing else and walked about a mile to Gaza’s central hospital, her last hope to find a safe place.

Ms. Helles said she needed more of an alarm to muster the courage to leave. A relative called and said: “Run now,” she said. “We ran out with bare feet,” she said.

Thousands were pouring out into Shajaiyeh’s streets, dodging rubble as an acrid smoke hung over the neighborhood and blasts were still heard. Every few blocks residents encountered more injured or dead. Buildings that hadn’t collapsed smoldered.

In an acknowledgment of the intensity of the battle, Hamas and Israel agreed to a pause of a few hours in the neighborhood to evacuate the dead and wounded. But it broke down after less than an hour.

WO-AT068_ISPAL_G_20140720182450

“It’s a miracle. I feel like an angel was watching over him,” said Ms. Kerber, whose brother lay on a hospital bed in Ashkelon holding a small book of Psalms.

As day broke, following hours of nonstop fighting, residents began considering what been an impossibility at night—leaving their homes.

For Ms. Said, the decision was obvious. “The shelling reached us and we couldn’t stay.”

At approximately 6 a.m., she said, she and her husband, gathered their children and nothing else and walked about a mile to Gaza’s central hospital, her last hope to find a safe place.

Ms. Helles said she needed more of an alarm to muster the courage to leave. A relative called and said: “Run now,” she said. “We ran out with bare feet,” she said.

Thousands were pouring out into Shajaiyeh’s streets, dodging rubble as an acrid smoke hung over the neighborhood and blasts were still heard. Every few blocks residents encountered more injured or dead. Buildings that hadn’t collapsed smoldered.

In an acknowledgment of the intensity of the battle, Hamas and Israel agreed to a pause of a few hours in the neighborhood to evacuate the dead and wounded. But it broke down after less than an hour.

There were scenes of chaos. Ambulances, journalists and aid workers surged into the district, their cars speeding through narrow streets to assess the damage. Nerves were frayed as residents emerged from their homes sometimes screaming in disbelief over what had happened. Al Shifa Hospital was overwhelmed with patients. Its morgue was becoming the scene of a grim ritual as ambulances opened their doors and hoisted the bodies of the dead through the crowd that had gathered. In 15 minutes, gurneys carrying six dead, including two small children, snaked their way into the morgue.

They were laid next to each other inside. A man tried to cover the leg of a dead woman, twisted and covered with blood. He screamed. The body of one boy was missing its face.

On one main street, two ambulances attempted a rescue as onlookers and journalists approached. A man emerged yelling to give the paramedics space before firing an automatic rifle repeatedly in the air, sending people scrambling for cover.

As the boy’s body left the ambulance, a young man had craned his neck to see it and sobbed into a mobile phone: “No, dad, it’s not him.”

—Joshua Mitnick, Jay Solomon and Joe Lauria
contributed to this article. (July 21, 2014)

The Washington Redskins aren’t the only sports team that’s come under fire lately for continuing the use of racially offensive names or mascots. But under the leadership of owner Dan Snyder it is one of the few teams that refuses to even consider a name change. Some people defend Snyder and his team’s right to use any name they want no matter how offensive others think it is, but we have eight reasons that just might convince Snyder to come around.

1024x683xMain-7701179452_9803c9e8e4_b.jpg.pagespeed.ic.rLY3NYIyPQ

1.) Because it might help the team’s stats

Maybe using a racially offensive name has something to do with 20 years of watching the Super Bowl on television instead of playing in it.

1-313283326_ea04ec9cc2_b

2.) Because it might increase merchandise sales

Between the limited fan base and a racially charged name we know there’s not a lot of “Redskins” merch flying out the door. The switch to a less offensive team name might at least increase the sale of giant foam fingers.

683x435x2-5045525491_af3559c2e9_b-e1390229401979.jpg.pagespeed.ic.qIlMMOpq6F

3.) Because why are they even called Redskins to begin with?

Who thinks of Native American history when they think of the nation’s capital? A name like “The Memorials” or “The Lobbyists” or “The Do-Nothings” would make a lot more sense.

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09

4.) Because many leaders in their home city want them to

At least ten congressmen are urging the team’s owner to change the offensive name. In a letter sent to owner Dan Snyder, to FedEx, the team’s sponsor, to Roger Goodell the NFL commissioner and to 31 additional franchises, the congressmen state their disappointment with Snyder’s refusal to consider a name change and say that using the “R-word” is the equivalent of using the “N-word.”

1024x683x4-10521984503_69a69eaaa1_b.jpg.pagespeed.ic.QQAdI3h2S3

5.) Because cultural appropriation is not a good example of sportsmanship

Efforts to degrade, overpower, disempower, humiliate and marginalize a culture by appropriating its customs, names and symbolism is nothing new; in fact, it’s a very old trick that has no place in modern society and certainly not in sports where things like race, creed and color aren’t supposed to matter.

1024x683x5-10521407235_df08a2d293_b.jpg.pagespeed.ic.ZIyUFB6HkP

6.) Because all their friends are doing it

There’s a strong precedence for changing a team’s names when the sensitivities of a society changes. For example, The Miami Redskins are now known as the RedHawks. Now, was that so hard?

1024x665x6-3531671981_d55d32f8c4_b.jpg.pagespeed.ic.ZmLAUn2uP6

7.) Because the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says they should

In 2001 the USCCR released an official opinion on the topic of non-Native schools or organizations using Native American nicknames and images. It was stated that the use of stereotypical images is offensive, that it may create a hostile environment and perpetuate stereotypes. Several religious organizations, including the Central Conference of American Rabbis have also called for an end to the use of Native American sports mascots or team names.

7-10521438004_93f2ce3da5_b

8.) Because Dan Snyder needs to do better

There’s an old saying about “when you know better, do better” that Snyder needs to learn. Unfortunately there was a time in American history when no one thought twice about using a degrading slur for fun or profit. But now we do know better and we should expect better from our country as a whole than to support the use of offensive and harmful racial terms.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_mascot_controversy

http://www.footballnation.com/content/why-the-washington-redskins-should-change-their-name/25688/

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9319267/members-congress-urge-washington-redskins-change-name

Politically speaking, Sarah Palin is crazy — but in an entertaining way. Speaker of the House John Boehner may look reasonable by comparison, but his supposed rationality is pretty dubious.

11

Before I proceed to pick on these GOP icons, I want to acknowledge that I spend a lot of time blasting Republicans in my columns and cartoons. Many readers assume it’s because I’m a commie-pinko, America-hating liberal Democrat. Actually, my constant critique of today’s GOP has more to do with the fact that I grew up in a time and place where Republicans were often the smart, sane ones and quite a few Democrats were part of a regressive, corrupt old guard.

12 13

Sarah Palin defines craziness for the Republican Party
Coming from a long-time-Republican family, I leaned toward the GOP in my sympathies and my votes well into my 20s. But those were the days when the word “Republican” was not synonymous with conservative and conservative was not synonymous with reactionary, anti-intellectual, gun-worshiping, gay-bashing, immigrant-fearing populism.

So, as a lapsed Republican, I am disappointed with the narrowness, rigidity and willful ignorance of those contemporary Republicans who claim the right to brand any Republican who disagrees with them a “Rino” (Republican in name only).

14

Judged by the long history of the party, if anyone is an actual Rino, it’s Sarah Palin. She has recently confessed as much, revealing an inclination to leave the GOP behind because the party lacks zeal for her list of kooky causes. One cause, in particular, has failed to ignite the passions of party leaders: the impeachment of President Obama.

15

Last week in a column on Breitbart.com, Palin declared, “Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president. His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas.’ “

She wrote that “the many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored,” but failed to clarify what those crimes may be. One of the president’s worst sins, as Palin sees it, is that he has made many Americans “feel like strangers in their own country.” Setting aside the reality that sweeping demographic, cultural and economic changes are far more likely the cause of traditionalist alienation than anything the president has done, it should be noted that making some folks feel excluded is not an impeachable offense. Imagine how marginalized anti-war liberals felt when George W. Bush was president.

Boehner apparently knows that trying to lead an impeachment effort is a fool’s errand. He dismissed Palin’s impeachment manifesto with two words: “I disagree.”

Instead, he and the House GOP leadership are taking the president to federal court, saying he has overstepped the limits of his constitutional role. This might seem a saner course of action if not for the political loopiness of the premise on which they are basing their lawsuit. After fighting against Obama’s Affordable Care Act for most of the president’s time in office, after taking countless votes to repeal the act and after running in 2010 and 2012 on a platform demanding repeal of the law, the Republicans now want to force the administration to put the law into full effect.

16 17
Obama has delayed implementation of the employer mandate provision of the ACA twice since 2013. Now, penalties that will punish employers for not providing healthcare coverage to their employees will not kick in until 2016. Boehner contends Obama has usurped the powers of Congress by fiddling with the deadlines.

It is an interesting legal question that a court will decide somewhere down the line, but no one is naïve enough to believe that constitutional clarity is truly Boehner’s goal. Republicans hate the mandate as much as they hate the whole healthcare law. The lawsuit is merely a milder version of the impeachment campaign; another gambit in the ceaseless effort to block the Democratic president at every possible turn.

18 19

This juvenile partisan towel fight has consumed most of the efforts of Republicans for way too long. Immediate action is needed to keep the Highway Trust Fund from running out of money by the end of August. By the end of September, a long list of other bills must be passed to avert another government shutdown. Plus, there’s the debate about renewal of the Export-Import Bank and the bill to address the latest border crisis. But all that necessary work may not get done because the House majority is too fixated on undoing the last two presidential elections.

For her part, Palin mocks Boehner’s little ploy. “You don’t bring a lawsuit to a gunfight and there’s no room for lawyers on our front lines,” she said, boldly mixing her metaphors on Fox News.

20

These aren’t real Republicans. This is a clown troop.

 

* Text by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2014 

This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them.

Farewell!. (CTsT)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 a (166) a (167)

A minor actress from Texas was sentenced Wednesday to 18 years in prison for sending ricin-tainted letters to President Obama, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and the head of his gun-control group.

1

Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, was also ordered to pay $367,000 restitution as part of a plea bargain for pleading guilty in December to one count of developing, producing, possessing and transferring a biological agent for use as a weapon. She bought the materials — castor bean seeds and lye — online.

2

The FBI arrested her in June 2013 after she was indicted by a federal grand jury. She gave bith the next month while in jail.

3

Richardson mailed three letters in May 2013 from her home in New Boston, near Texarkana, and then drove to a Shreveport, La., police station to implicate her estranged husband, who had filed for divorce. She told the FBI she did not think the letters would be opened because of security measures.

4

“What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what ive got in store for you mr president,” read the letter to Obama. “You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face.”

5

A former Dallas beauty queen, she had bit parts in TV series and film, including The Vampire DiariesThe Walking DeadFranklin & BashAll My Children and The Blind Side.

6

Richardson apologized Wednesday before being sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider.

“I never intended for anybody to be hurt,” she said. “I’m not a bad person. I don’t have it in me to hurt anyone.”

“I do love my country, and I respect my president,” she added.

7

Schneider said Richardson’s actions “put many lives in danger and threatened public officials at the highest level of government. The defendant claims that she did not intend to harm anyone, but certainly her actions could have had grave consequences.”

8

Ricin is a biological toxin that can be fatal if inhaled or swallowed. There is no antidote or cure.

 

* Text by USAToday, July 16, 2014

A federal judge Wednesday struck down California’s death penalty, saying the “dysfunctional” system that makes prisoners wait decades to be executed violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

la-me-ln-death-row-san-quentin-photos-001

The ruling marks the first time a federal court has found the state’s death penalty to be unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, sitting in Orange County, wrote that since California voters reinstated capital punishment in 1978, more than 900 inmates have been sentenced to death row but only 13 have been executed.

la-me-ln-death-row-san-quentin-photos-002

“For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution,” Carney wrote in his 29-page ruling on a petition filed by death row inmate Ernest Dewayne Jones. He was convicted of raping and murdering a 50-year-old Southern California accountant in 1992.

la-me-ln-death-row-san-quentin-photos-003

“When an individual is condemned to death in California, the sentence carries with it an implicit promise from the state that it will actually be carried out,” he said. “But for too long now, the promise has been an empty one … it has resulted in a system that serves no penological purpose.”

Carey, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, declared that “arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed.”

That, he said, violates the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The state could appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, is reviewing the opinion, her press secretary said.

la-me-ln-death-row-san-quentin-photos-004

Death penalty opponents hailed the ruling.

“Judge Carney’s ruling today is truly historic,” said Gil Garcetti, former Los Angeles district attorney. “It further proves that the death penalty is broken beyond repair; it is exorbitantly costly, unfair, and serves no legitimate purpose whatsoever. The only solution is to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

No executions have been carried out in California since 2006, when another federal judge determined that the state must revise its procedures for lethal injection. The death house is located inside San Quentin State Prison, north of San Francisco.

la-me-ln-death-row-san-quentin-photos-005

In November 2012, California voters narrowly rejected a referendum that would have converted all death sentences to life without parole. Garcetti was a major supporter of that ballot measure, known as Proposition 34.

Buoyed by Californians’ support for capital punishment — and by polls showing their frustration over delays — three former California governors began collecting signatures in February for a state constitutional amendment designed to limit death penalty appeals and to speed executions.

At least 807,615 valid signatures were needed to put the proposition on the November ballot. The filing deadline was July 10, and the secretary of State is determining whether the measure qualified.

 

* Text by Michael Winter, USA TODAY

Millions of people in the Philippine capital and its neighboring provinces remained without electricity late Thursday in the wake of Typhoon Rammasun, which has killed at least 40 people.

images (1)

“We may have to check in a hotel tonight. My wife and son both have asthma, and it’s tough for them to sleep without air conditioning,” said Rey Infante, a currency dealer with a local bank who lives in the capital’s neighboring town of Taytay.

Typhoon Rammasun hits Manila

“We’ve been without power for two days now. Surely, our food will go stale,” he added.

Manila Electric Co. MER.PH -1.18% said Thursday that a third of its 5.3 million customers—equivalent to roughly 25 million people—had no power as of late Thursday but that almost all would get it by late Friday. The company distributes electricity to Manila and other provinces that together account for half of the country’s gross domestic product. (Watch Typhoon Rammasun’s movements and forecast.).

3 4

Rammasun was the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan last November, which killed more than 6,000 people.

Rammasun made landfall in Albay province Tuesday evening before crossing several provinces south of Manila on Wednesday and out to the South China Sea. More than half a million people fled to government shelters, though authorities said most had returned home by Thursday.

5

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said damaged transmission lines in the southern provinces in the Luzon island group, where Rammasun first made landfall, had isolated major power plants, starving the Luzon grid of 55% of its electricity-generation capacity.

“The distribution lines may be OK, but the supply may not come (until late Friday) because southern plants cannot bring power to Metro Manila,” Mr. Petilla told a news conference.

Rammasun, which in Thai means “thunder god,” barreled through metropolitan Manila, the southern provinces of Luzon island group and parts of central Philippines with howling winds that gusted up to 185 kilometers an hour, toppling electric poles, uprooting trees and destroying concrete walls.

6 7 8

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Thursday the death toll from Rammasun is at least 40, while the injured and missing number 17 and four, respectively.

In Albay and Quezon, two of the southern provinces hardest hit by the typhoon, government officials told The Wall Street Journal that nearly all their evacuation centers had emptied. Authorities have proceeded to the relief and rehabilitation phase.

“People were eager to leave the evacuation centers so they could start repairing their damaged homes,” said Matt Florido, an executive assistant to Quezon Gov. David Suarez.

Philippines Prepares For Arrival Of Typhoon Rammasun

Mr. Florido and other officials have been in Quezon’s capitol building since Tuesday, when Rammasun unleashed its full wrath.

“We were cringing in fear. We composed ourselves with the thought that there are people out there who need our help,” he said.

He said preliminary reports showed 19 people were killed in Quezon.

Cedric Daep, head of Albay’s public safety and emergency management office, said early estimates of damaged coconut, rice, corn and other agricultural crops totaled $36 million, and losses to households and infrastructure reached $69 million.

Mr. Daep said all the major roads in the province have been cleared of debris and fallen trees.

“But we still have no power,” he said.

Khristine Cabayanan, who works in a multinational pharmaceutical firm and lives in the town of Imus, said she and her family were awakened at dawn Wednesday by Rammasun’s strong winds.

10

“It felt like the roof of our house would be torn off. But I was more concerned with the rain,” said Ms. Cabayanan, who is pregnant with her third child. “I feared our house will be flooded again, just like last year (at the height of the Northwest monsoon). Thankfully, it didn’t.”

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration spotted another weather disturbance in the Pacific Ocean, west of the southern region of Mindanao. Weather experts said there is a high probability the disturbance will develop into a storm when it enters Philippine waters late Friday.

 

* Text by Cris Larano and Josephine Cuneta , wsj , July 17, 2014

This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them.

Farewell!. (CTsT)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12