The Ever Growing Threat of Ebola, U.S. and Allies Bombard Syria and Iraq As ISIS Steps Up Attacks and Climate Change Takes Center Stage

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A report issued on Tuesday by the U.S. Centers from Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 550,000 and 1.4 million people in West Africa could be infected with the Ebola virus by January 20, 2015 if nothing changes, Reuters reports, Ebola cases could rise to 1.4 million by January, CDC says. According to the report: “The top range of the estimate, 1.4 million, assumes that the number of cases officially cited so far, 5,864 according to the count kept by the World Health Organization, is significantly underreported, and that it is likely that 2.5 times as many cases, or nearly 20,000, have in fact occurred.” CDC says the projection is based on data available in August and an epidemiological model taking into account how many people each Ebola patient could infect and does not factor in the recent U.S. government Ebola relief effort that included 3,000 members of the armed forces to Ebola stricken areas. In a statement, the CDC said: “Extensive, immediate actions – such as those already started – can bring the epidemic to a tipping point to start a rapid decline in cases.”

While the world fights to contain the Ebola virus and eliminate the spread by containment, the U.S. and several of its allies try to fight a social disease that has spread throughout the world…extremism specifically the Islamic State also know as ISIS. Llazar Semini and Nicole Winfield reports, Pope denounces perversion of religion for violence, Pope France, on Sunday in Albania, denounced that extremist around the world are using religion to justify violence. The Vatican insisted no special security measures were taken even with the threat of ISIS , but Francis’ interaction with the crowd were reduced compared to his previous foreign trips. Albania’s Interior Ministry promised “maximum” protection from 2,500 police forces and beefed-up patrols at border crossings. In his opening speech, Francis told President Bujar Nishani, Albanian officials and the diplomatic corps that Albania’s inter-religious harmony was inspiring: “This is especially the case in these times in which authentic religious spirit is being perverted by extremist groups, and where religious differences are being distorted and instrumentalized. Let no one consider themselves to be the ‘armor’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression!” It was Francis’ first visit to a majority Muslim nation since the Islamic State crackdown on Christians in Iraq, with members of religious minorities being killed, persecuted or forced to flee their homes by militants. The Vatican has voiced mounting concern about the exodus of faithful from lands where Christian communities have existed for 2,000 years. Albania’s president, Nishani, thanked Francis: “There is no intolerance, extremism among us but reciprocal respect inherited from generation to generation,” he said. “From an atheist country, we have turned into a country of religious freedom.” In his homily, Francis paid his respect to those who sacrificed their lives for religious freedom: “Recalling the decades of atrocious suffering and harsh persecutions against Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims, we can say that Albania was a land of martyrs. Do not forget your wounds, but don’t avenge them. Go forward, flying on the hopes of a great future.”

While the optimism for a religiously free world spreads , the Islamic State continues to advocate violence in the name of religion. The Associated Press reports, Islamic State group calls for attacking civilians, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani’s 42 minute audio statement sounds like a call to arms in response to Barack Obama’s coalition formation. A spokesman for the group, al-Adnani, said their fighters are ready for battle and encourage Muslims to attack at home and abroad. In addition, he said the group welcomes the possibility of a ground war with the U.S. and called on Muslims to kill civilians of nations that joined the coalition. In a statement released Sunday, al-Adnani said: “Oh, believer, do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons and troops of the tyrants. Strike their police, security and intelligence members. If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that joined a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.” Militants in Algeria seized a French citizen on Sunday and later issued a statement saying it was in response to al-Adnani’s appeal. In a video that appeared on social media, a masked member of an al-Qaida splinter organization calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, said he would kill his captive within 24 hours if France did not withdraw from the coalition seeking to destroy the Islamic State group. Perhaps tapping into fears among Americans of the mission broadening, al-Adnani vowed the U.S. would be “drawn and dragged” into a ground war. “It will come down to the ground and it will be led to its death, grave, and destruction. … Know that our knife is sharp and hard. It cuts off the hands and strikes the necks.” Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Bram Janssen report, Clashes Between Iraqi Soldiers And Islamic State Leave Dozens Dead And Missing, Sunday that Islamic State militants in Iraqi army uniforms and driving stolen Humvees killed 40 Iraqi soldiers at Camp Saqlawiyah near the town of Sijir and captured another 68 in western Anbar province where the United States recently broadened their airstrikes, according to Gen. Rasheed Fleih. After the attacks, the Iraqi military withdrew 700 more troops stationed in the area, he said. Iraq’s new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement Monday that his government is committed to reinforcing military and police forces in Anbar and will increase airstrikes to target the pockets of militant fighters across the province. On Monday, the U.S. military said the airstrikes on Islamic State targets southwest of oil rich Kirkuk destroyed two military vehicles and a tank and damaged a Humvee. With the U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have retaken several small towns and strategic Mosul Dam, but the Islamic State fighters operate from cities with large civilian populations such as Fallujah and Mosul. In northern Iraq, Helgurd Hikmet, general director of the ministry overseeing the Kurdish forces, said that France, Italy and Germany were among countries providing training in the use of the new machine guns, mortars, rockets and demining robots the Kurdish fighters have received. Last week, the French joined in the aerial campaign, and a number of European countries have committed to arming the Kurds and providing humanitarian support for more than a million people displaced by the onslaught of the Islamic State group. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Prime deputy Prime Minster Numan Kurtulmus said Turkey is ready for the worst case scenario should more refugees steam in as the number of fleeing Syrians from the Islamic state group to turkey grew in the last four days since Thursday to 130,000, according to Desmond Butler and Suzan Fraser, Syria refugee flood to Turkey hits 100,000. The Islamic State in recent days has advanced into the Kurdish regions of Syria that border Turkey, where fleeing refugees on Sunday reported atrocities that included stonings, beheadings and the torching of homes. UNHCR spokeswoman Selin Unal said most of those coming across the border are Kurdish women, children and the elderly. She urged the international community to step up its aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey. Meanwhile in Monday night raids, the U.S. and five Arab nations attacked the Islamic State group headquarters in eastern Syria by land and sea based U.S. aircraft and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from two navy ships in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, according to Lolita C. Baldor and Robert Burns, Joint chiefs chair: ‘No safe haven’ for militants. U.S. officials said five Arab nations either participated in the airstrikes or provided unspecified support. They were Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Several hours after the Pentagon announced the airstrikes against Islamic State targets, U.S. Central Command said American warplanes also launched eight airstrikes “to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests” by a network of “seasoned al-Qaida veterans” – sometimes known as the Khorasan Group – who have established a haven in Syria. Central Command said that separate bombing mission was undertaken solely by U.S. aircraft and took place west of the Syrian city of Aleppo. It said targets included training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communication building and command and control facilities. Syria’s Foreign Ministry said the U.S. informed Syria’s envoy to the U.N. that “strikes will be launched against the terrorist Daesh group in Raqqa.” The statement used an Arabic name to refer to the Islamic State group. Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told The Associated Press, “There is confirmed information that there are casualties among Islamic State group members.” He added that missiles also targeted the towns of Tabqa, Ein Issa and Tel Abyad, as well as the village of Kfar Derian, which is a base for the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, a rival of the Islamic State group. Another activist, Mohammed al-Dughaim, based in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, confirmed that several airstrikes hit Kfar Derian in the early hours of Tuesday. He said there were civilians among the casualties.

While much of the world seems focused on the growing threat of pandemic Ebola and of equal threat ISIS, world leaders and activists took their concern over climate change to the street pushing for change now before its too late. Verena Dobnik and Michael Sisak report, Thousands march in NYC, around globe over climate, tens of thousands of activists walked through Manhattan Sunday to bring attention to and warn that climate change is destroying the earth with demonstrators around the world urging policy makers to take quick action. According to the report: “Organizers said more than 100,000 marched in New York, including actors Mark Ruffalo and Evangeline Lilly. They were joined in midtown Manhattan by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. On Tuesday, more than 120 world leaders will convene for the United Nations Climate Summit aimed at galvanizing political will for a new global climate treaty by the end of 2015. De blasio said, “My sense is the energy you see on the streets, the numbers that have amassed here and in other cities around the world, show that something bigger is going on, and this U.N. summit will be one of the ones where we look back and say it was a difference maker.” Ban agreed saying, “Climate change is a defining issue of our time and there is no time to lose. There is no Plan B because we do not have planet B. We have to work and galvanize our action.” The New York march was not the only one as similar event tool place around the world to raise awareness on climate change. In London, organizers said 40,000 marchers participated, while a small gathering in Cairo featured a huge art piece representing wind and solar energy. In Rio de Janeiro, marchers at Ipanema Beach had green hearts painted on their faces. Celebrities in London including actress Emma Thompson and musician Peter Gabriel joined thousands of people crossing the capital’s center, chanting: “What do we want? Clean energy. When do we want it? Now.” In New York, people from tornado ravaged Moore, Oklahoma where 24 people were killed last year and hundreds of people affected by Superstorm Sandy participated in the march. In Australia, the largest rally was in Melbourne, where an estimated 10,000 people took to the streets with banners and placards calling on their government to do more to combat global warming. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was a particular target of the protesters. Abbott’s center-right coalition has removed a carbon tax and has restricted funding for climate change bodies since coming to power last year. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary John Kerry on Monday opened a week of climate change talks in New York hopeful that the discussions will set the tone for upcoming negotiations on an international agreement, Michael Pearson reports, Kerry: New York climate summit to set agenda. Addressing business and government leaders attending Climate Week NYC that coincides with the U.N. summit Tuesday, Kerry said: “It’s about time that world leaders come to the United Nations to recognize this threat in the way that it requires and demands. And it gives me hope that this global summit may actually produce the leadership that is necessary to try to come together and move the needle, to take advantage of the small window of time — and I mean that — the small window of time that we have left in order to be able to prevent the worst impacts of climate change from already happening.” He urged participants to use their influence to steer world leaders toward committing to greater action on climate change in time for discussions on an international climate change agreement to be held in Lima, Peru, in December and in Paris in 2015. Some 125 countries will attend the session, according to the Climate Group, which is organizing Climate Week NYC. Ryan Gorman reports, Global warming likely to cause colder and snowier winters, scientists say, scientists now believe global warming is to blame for extreme cold snaps in North America during the winter months and will keep happening. The “polar vortex” that plunged Canada and the U.S. into historical cold last winter is said by researchers to have occurred because melting polar ice changes weather patterns, according to a study published earlier this month. A team of Korean and American scientist assert in a new study that the melting ices has caused the northern jet stream or upper level air flow to shift south and bring polar air with it. The article explains: “The polar ice is melting because warmer water is riding the Gulf Stream (ocean currents) from tropical regions of the Atlantic Ocean to an area north of Scandinavia. This causes masses of warm air to destabilize the normally strong polar air mass and send brutally cold air right at Canada and the U.S., according to Slate. As the atmosphere continues to warm, and ocean water temperatures rise, this effect will only become more pronounced, researchers argue. The surprising result of global warming, or climate change, will be colder, snowier winters across both countries. The Eurasian supercontinent also experiences this cooling effect, according to study co-author Seong-Joon Kim.”

NRA Believes Stalkers’ Have the Right to Bear Arms

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Wayne LaPierre (Credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

The National Rifle Association has now taken up the fight against federal legislation banning those convicted of domestic violence against dating partners and stalking from purchasing guns, according to Laura Bassett’s article on June 25, NRA Fights For Convicted Stalkers’ Gun Rights. The federal law already prevents persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from purchasing firearms. However, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) proposes the addition of convicted stalkers to the group and is in favor of expanding the definition of convicted domestic violence against “intimate partners” to include dating partners, according to legislation S. 1290 which she introduced. Bassett reports that two different senators’ aides confirmed that the NRA sent letters to lawmakers strongly opposing the measure even describing it as “a bill to turn disputes between family members and social acquaintances into lifetime firearm prohibitions.” The letter from the nation’s largest gun lobby also states that the measure “manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as ‘domestic violence’ and ‘stalking’ simply to cast as wide a net as possible for federal firearm prohibitions.” Klobuchar in an email to HuffPost stated, “As a former prosecutor, I know how domestic violence and stalking can take lives and tear apart families. This is a commonsense bill that would protect victims and keep our families safe, and I will continue to work to move this legislation forward.”

Legislation has been gaining momentum in the states that would prevent all convicted domestic abusers from purchasing guns and even the NRA has relaxed its stance on such bills over the past year due to the fact one of its own top officials was convicted of domestic violence and prohibited from owning a firearm. However, the federal push for domestic violence gun bans has raised some red flags for the gun rights groupies e.g. Klobuchar, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) have all introduced measures to expand and strengthen gun restriction for people who are convicted of domestic abuse or stalking or who have emergency temporary restraining orders issued. According to a report released last week by the Center for American Progress, stalkers and physically abusive dating partners are just as deadly as violent spouses. In addition, domestic abusers with access to guns are seven times more likely to kill their partners than those without access.

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), a congresswoman who survived a gunshot to the head in 2011, met last week with House and Senate leadership, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, numerous other lawmakers and policy experts to discuss what Congress can do to protect women from gun violence committed at the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers, Basset reports. Giffords’ gun violence prevention PAC, Americans for Responsible Solution, found that women in gun friendly Texas favor a law requiring stalkers to turn in their firearms. Halyley Zachary, executive director of the PAC, told HuffPost:  “Protecting women from gun violence means ensuring we have laws that keep guns out of the hands of stalkers and domestic abusers. By opposing this commonsense bill, [NRA chief] Wayne LaPierre and the NRA leadership has once again shown it is out of step with the vast majority of Americans and responsible gun owners. Now, the question for NRA-backed candidates around the country is: do they share the NRA’s position?”

Our Veterans Deserve Better

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An updated audit of 731 VA medical facilities released last Thursday June 19 found tens of thousands of more veterans not included previously have to wait at least a mouth for a medical appointment at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics, according to Matthew Daly’s article – Tens of thousands more veterans than previously reported are forced to wait at least a month for medical appointments. The updated report showed new figures on the wait times experience at most VA facilities were shorter than the waiting lists for pending appointed e.g. new patients at Atlanta VA hospital wait 44 days for an appoint in April where the average wait for pending appointments at Atlanta were 66 days. Similar disparities were found across the country with more than 56,000 veterans waiting more than 90 days for an initial appointment. Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson believes there is more work to be done, though his department has reached out to 70,000 veterans to get them off waiting lists and into clinics. The report shows 10 percent of veterans seeking care at VA hospitals and clinics wait 30 days for an appointment which is double the 4 percent previously reported the previous week. The VA is investigation widespread manipulation of appointment data following dozens of confirmed allegations of veterans dying while awaiting appointments at the Phoenix VA medical center. According to some 13 percent of schedulers surveyed by auditors, they were told to falsify wait times on appointment records by supervisors to make them appear shorter. In exchange for the delay, schedulers were given a performance bonus. The June 9 audit found that 57,000 veterans were waiting 90 days for their first medical appointments and an additional 64,000 have never gotten an appointment. The new report found the numbers to be lower at 56,300 and 46,400. VA Secretary Eric Shineski resigned three weeks ago over treatment delays and wait listing problems at VA facilities nationwide. Shineski took the blame for the lack of integrity within the VA network, while the Hose and Senate approved separate billed to allow veterans to seek local doctors if a VA appointment cannot be made in a timely manner.

Stricter Rape Laws Fail to Deter the Rape and Torture of a 5 Year Old

Of all human atrocities committed in the world, a rape and torture of a 5 year old girl tops the list. As India tries to find effective ways of implementing the new stricter rape laws, another rape has occurred fueling the anger many women and men have against the government for allowing it to happen. A second suspect Monday was arrested in the rape of a 5 year old girl who was found in a locked room according to New Delhi police as a new wave of protests ramp up against the Indian authorities handle of sex crimes. Pradeep Kumar, a 19 year old factory worker, was arrested Monday and after questioning lead to Manoj Kumar, 24, who was arrested Saturday in Bihar and flown back to Delhi according to the Associated Press. The two men are not related. The men are accused of abducting, raping and attempted murder of the 5 year old who went missing April 15 and found two days later by neighbors who hear her crying in the same New Delhi building where she lives with her family. The police said the girl was left for dead and was found alone.

The girl was in critical condition on Thursday when she was transferred from a local hospital to a large government run hospital where the girl on Monday was responding well and her condition stabilized. D.K. Sharma, medical superintendent of the hospital in New Delhi said, “She is much better today and her wounds are healing well.” The attack came four months after the fatal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus and a few month after a female tourist was attacked and raped while on vacation. For the third day, protests have erupted in Delhi with many supporters of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party breaking through police cordon and reaching the Parliamentary gates shouting slogans against the handling of the case AP reports. The police arrested several of the protestors and confirmed that they are being detained at a nearby police station then released in a few hours. Another group of a 100 women protested near another area of Parliament directing their protest against the Delhi police who failed to act after the girl was reported missing. The protestors want the police chief removed from office and the police accused of failing to act dismissed.

The Delhi police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar admitted Monday that police did not handle the situation properly. G. Ananthapadmanabhan, head of the Indian chapter of the human rights group Amnesty International, said, “The police must be held accountable for their shocking levels of apathy. They urgently need to review police processes to ensure that all cases of rape and sexual violence – not just those highlighted by the media – are fully and promptly investigated. Those who fail to do their job must be held accountable.” Kumar himself had this to say,”There have been shortfalls, so the station house officer and his deputy have been suspended.” Kumar also commented on that since the December gang rape case, the reported number of complaints about rape and molestation have risen in numbers in the city after instructions were given to police and the number of solved crimes that led to arrests have also increased AP reports. However, sexual violence against women and children can be seen in the Indian newspapers everyday with women feeling insecure about leaving their homes. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has this to say on Sunday at a civil servant meeting,”The gruesome assault on the little girl a few days back reminds us once again of the need to work collectively to root out this sort of depravity from our society.” Activists say the laws passed in response to the December gang rape are not enough as the government must ensure police will crack down on crimes against women.

Google Earth Is Key To Revealing North Korea’s Prison Camp System, Activists Say

Google Earth Is Key To Revealing North Korea’s Prison Camp System, Activists Say.

Wow you really can find anything in real time on Google Earth, but in this case maybe this Google Exec better be a little more careful. Earlier this month, Eric Schmidt embarked on a journey to North Korea even though he was criticized by the U.S. State Department for timing and intention, human rights activist said that the visit is a reminder of something significant. Many believe that Google Earth will help to unlock the mystery surrounding North Korea’s system of labor and prison camps that hold some 250,000 political prisoners who are starved and forced to do intense manual labor. One Free Korea has complied a lot of information on 6 of these prison camps (the one shown above is camp 22 which can be seen on Google maps above). The blog notes that 50,000 men, women and children are housed here where they are forced to stone each other to death, women are raped by prison guards, about 2,000 people die from starvation each year. Many families are guilty by association and forced into these camps where some families see three generations of their lineage live and die within the walls for crimes committed long ago. The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, a non-governmental U.S. organization, has credited Google Earth with bringing more of these camps to light in North Korea in the updated version of “The Hidden Gulag” released in 2012 focusing on the prisoners in these camps now being able to identify specific locations within the camps where they were held. As many people have said, the above project shows how hard it is for governments to hide these types of facilities and keep them a secret  anymore that eventually the full disclosure of the atrocities committed by the North Korean regimen will be revealed as it opens up more and more.

Muslims, Christians Clash In Southern Egypt Over Accusations In Luxor

Muslims, Christians Clash In Southern Egypt Over Accusations In Luxor.

Wow religion should bring people together not pull people apart or in this case be used the way it is. In Luxor, Egypt, police had to break up hundreds of Muslim protestors outside a church in Southern Egypt on Friday claiming that a Christian man sexually assaulted a 6 year old girl. The village of Marashda in the Qena province had four shops torched overnight because of the accusation that one of the shop owners, a Coptic Christian, molested the young girl. The police are investigating the accusations against the merchant. These flare ups have been happening more frequently between the two groups mainly because the country ousted the longtime President Hosni Mubarak and has weakened national security. The Egyptians Christians are concerned that the ultraconservative powers that overthrew the president allows the extremist Muslims the ability to do whatever they want to the Coptic Christians especially in poorer areas. The group only makes up 10 percent of the 85 million people in the country and have long complained of discrimination by the state. The clashes between the groups are caused primarily by church construction, and disputes, and the mingling of the two religion as in love affairs.

India Gang Rape: Woman Assaulted By Bus Driver, Conductor

India Gang Rape: Woman Assaulted By Bus Driver, Conductor.

On Sunday, the New Delhi police arrested six suspects in another gang rape of a bus passenger in India only four weeks after the brutal attack on a student on a moving bus. Police officer Raj Jeet Singh said a 29-year-old woman was the only passenger on a bus as she was traveling to her village in northern Punjab state on Friday night when the driver refused to stop, drove her to a desolate location, then tool her to a building, and proceeded with five other friends raped her throughout the night. The driver dropped her off at her village early Saturday. All the men confessed to the rape and the victim is recovering at home. Also on Saturday, police arrested a 32 year old man for raping and killing a 9 year old girl two weeks ago in Ahmednagar district in western India.

 

This further fuels the demand for stricter rape laws and more action by the government after the deadly rape of 23 year old student on a New Delhi bus in December led to her death. Five men have been charged with the rape and murder and could face the death penalty. The 17 year old involved will be tried in the juvenile court if confirmed a minor and could face 3 years in a reform facility.

The whole situation is very tragic and it breaks my heart that this many women had their lives ruined for the government to take an interest in these acts of violence. The reality is all countries whether developed or not have the issue of violent crimes against women so until we change people’s mentality toward women and make the separation between culture and human rights then these crimes will continue to happen.