Ebola in Senegal While Human Trials Begin, Ukraine Crisis Deepens, E.U. Plans to Deal with ISIS, Hong Kong and Pakistan Divided After Elections and Americans Detained in North Korea Need U.S. Help

https://craftymcclever.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/31de6-6a00d8341d417153ef01b8d05dc68c970c-800wi.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/www.truthdig.com/images/made/images/cartoonuploads/ukraineeufight_590_422.jpghttps://7e8c.https.cdn.softlayer.net/807E8C/origin.theweek.com/img/dir_0121/60928_cartoon_main.jpg?208https://craftymcclever.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/5f37f-chinesegovernment.gif

Senegalese authorities confirmed Monday they are monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country and who has lost three family members to the disease, according to Babacar Dione, Senegal monitors contacts of first Ebola patient. So far, more than 1,500 people have died from the latest Ebola outbreak that hit Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The university student is Senegal’s first case of the dreaded disease. Dione reports: “The 21-year-old left Guinea on Aug. 15, just days after his brother died of the disease, according to Guinea’s Health Ministry. It said that the brother apparently caught Ebola in Sierra Leone. The student traveled by road, crossing into Senegal despite a border closure. He arrived in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, on Aug. 20, according to the World Health Organization, and was staying with relatives on the outskirts of the city. The agency said that on Aug. 23, he went to a medical facility seeking treatment for fever, diarrhea and vomiting – all symptoms of Ebola but also many other diseases. But he concealed from doctors that he had had contact with infected people. He was treated instead for malaria and continued to stay with his relatives before turning up at a Dakar hospital on Aug. 26.” Senegal’s Health Ministry said Sunday that they are examining every person who came into contact with the student twice a day. Since the man left home, the Health Ministry in Guinea reports his mother and a sister have died from the disease, while two other brothers area being treated. The arrival of the disease in Senegal has raised fears that the disease will spread even farther, but public health experts said that shutting borders and banning flights is not the answer. During a visit to the airport in Conakry, Guinea on Monday, Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said: “Countries might try to restrict travel in order to protect themselves, and it will do the opposite. If we cut off these countries, we will interfere with our ability to support them and stop the outbreak and that will actually increase the risk to the rest of the world.” On Monday, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered civil servants to stay home to prevent the disease from spreading for another month and schools have been closed. Caleb Hellerman reports, Human trial of experimental Ebola vaccine begins this week, the National Institutes of Health will begin this week testing an experimental Ebola vaccine as anxiety and fears increase about the spread of the disease in West Africa. After an expedited reveiw by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, researchers will begin human safety trials, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed. The process for testing Hellerman describes as follows: “The experimental vaccine, developed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and the NIAID, will first be given to three healthy human volunteers to see if they suffer any adverse effects. If deemed safe, it will then be given to another small group of volunteers, aged 18 to 50, to see if it produces a strong immune response to the virus. All will be monitored closely for side effects. The vaccine will be administered to volunteers by an injection in the deltoid muscle of their arm, first in a lower dose, then later in a higher dose after the safety of the vaccine has been determined.” Fauci said preclinical studies normally done were waived by the FDA during reviews, so “we want to take extra special care that we go slowly with the dosing.” In addition, the vaccine tested on chimpanzees worked well noting that the method being used to prompt an immune response to Ebola cannot cause a healthy person to become infected with the virus. According to NIH, the vaccine will then be tested on healthy volunteers in the United Kingdom, Gambia and Mali after details are finalized in those countries. Fauci remarked the reason trials cannot be done in the countries currently affected is due to a health care infrastructure that cannot not support it, while Gambia and Mali were chosen due to a “long-standing collaborative relationships” with researchers in those countries. However, according to the NIH, officials from the CDC are in talks with health officials from Nigeria to conduct part of the safety trial there. Funding from an international consortium will allow GlaxoSmithKline to begin manufacturing 10,000 additional doses of vaccine while clinical trials are ongoing, according to a statement from the pharmaceutical company. These doses will made available to the WHO if they decide to do emergency immunizations in high risk communities. Another vaccine, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed this month to NewLink Genetics, a company based in Iowa. According to the NIH, safety trials of that vaccine will start this fall. A third vaccine given in combination with Depovax developed by the NIH was tested on primates and found to protect them from infection. While vaccine will help to prevent the disease among health workers and other people high risk, development has also sped up for drugs to treat patients with the disease already. ZMapp, the most publicized in recent months, was formally tested on humans with five of the seven treated in the current outbreak still alive. However, experts say there is too little data to say whether it played a role in recovery of these patients including two American missionary medical workers, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly.

Meanwhile, at the start of Monday’s negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, pro-Russian rebels said they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy reflecting Moscow’s desire to strike a deal at this new round of peace talks, the Associate Press reports, Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks. The same day, brutal fighting continued in eastern Ukraine with rebels pushing government forces from an airport near Luhansk adding to their military gains. The peace talks follow last week’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The negotiations involve former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, an envoy from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and representatives of the rebels. This round of negotiations are quite different as rebels in a statement carried by Russia’s state run RIA Novosti news agency said they are willing to discuss “the preservation of the united economic, cultural and political space of Ukraine.” However, they demand amnesty and broad local power including being able to appoint their own local law enforcement officials in eastern Ukraine as Crimea is not part of this negotiation. According to RIA Novosti, rebel negotiator Andrei Purgin said the talks lasted for several hours Monday and will continue Friday as parties will discuss a ceasefire and an exchange of prisoners. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told students at at Moscow State Institute of International Relations on Monday: “There will be no military intervention. We call for an exclusively peaceful settlement of this severe crisis, this tragedy.” Ukrainian National Security Council spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko said on Monday that “not less than four battalions and tactical groups of the Russian armed forces are active in Ukraine.” Fighting in eastern Ukraine between rebels and government forces began a month after the annexation of Crimea in mid-April killing 2,600 people so far and forced 340,000 to flee their homes, the U.N. reports. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday regarding a planned summit in Wales to discuss how to protect member nations against Russian aggression: “(This) ensures that we have the right forces and the right equipment in the right place at the right time. Not because NATO wants to attack anyone. But because the dangers and the threats are more present and more visible. And we will do what it takes to defend our allies.”

While Ukraine deals with its own insurgency problems, Iraq and other world leaders address the issue of the Islamic State Militants that has overran large parts of Syria and Iraq. Nour al-Maliki, Iraq’s outgoing prim minister, Monday announced during an unannounced visit to Amirli that he would turn his country into “a big grave” for Sunni militants from the Islamic State group and praised security forces for their victory that ended the siege of a the Shiite town, according to Sameer N. Yacoub, Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants. In footage on state TV, al-Maliki ordered promotions and awards fro those who fought the battle. He vowed to root out Sunni militants from areas they control in the country. The U.S. airstrikes helped to liberate Amirli and were the first to hit areas where Iranian backed militias were fighting Sunni militants making an unlikely alliance between the U.S. and Shiite militiamen who fought American soldiers in Iraq. Since Aug. 8, the U.S. has conducted 120 airstrikes with aircraft and unmanned drones against the militants focusing on areas bordering self ruled northern Kurdish region where Kurdish forces are fighting militants. Monday, the United Nations reported 1,420 Iraqis have been killed in the violence in August which is down from the previous month. According to Yacoub: “The U.N. mission to Iraq, known as UNAMI, said in its monthly statement that the death toll includes 1,265 civilians and 155 members of Iraq’s security forces. Another 1,370 were wounded, including 1,198 civilians. July’s death toll stood at 1,737 people. In June, 2,400 were killed as Sunni militants swept across the country, the highest figure since at least April 2005.” In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the decision to send arms to Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Iraq by telling parliament Monday that the group poses a major security threat to Germany and Europe, Noah Barkin reports, Merkel: ISIS Poses Major Risk To Europe. In a speech to the Bundestag lower house, Merkel said, “The far-reaching destabilization of an entire region affects Germany and Europe. Ladies and gentlemen, when terrorists take control of a vast territory to give themselves and other fanatics a base for their acts of terror, then the danger rises for us, then our security interests are affected.” Recent polls show that two out of three Germans think the government should not send arms to Kurdish fighters for fears the arms could end up in the hands of jihadists or could put a target on Germany’s back. However, Merkel in her speech notes over 400 German and hundreds of Europeans have taken up arms to fight alongside Islamic State militants and could return home at any time presenting a threat to Germany. Merkel said, “We faced a choice: not to take any risks, not to deliver (arms) and to accept the spread of terror; or to support those who are desperately but courageously fighting the barbarous terror of ISIS with limited resources. We are aware of the risks of this support, of course we considered them. But we also asked ourselves about the acute risks from ISIS if we do not deliver arms.” In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron has laid out his plan to fight the threat posed by the group as returning citizens come home after fighting with the militants, but many doubt if Parliament will go for it, according to Karl Penhaul, Susannah Cullinane and Laura Smith-Spark, Cameron lays out plans to counter UK jihadi threat. Announcing his plan on Monday, Cameron said, “Dealing with this terrorist threat is not just about new powers, it is also about how we combat extremism in all its forms…Passports are not an automatic right. We will introduce specific and targeted legislation to fill this gap by providing the police with a temporary power to seize a passport at the border, during which time they will be able to investigate the individual concerned. This power will include appropriate safeguards and oversight arrangements.” While it will help to stop would be jihadists, Cameron said Britain need measures to prevent foreign fighters from returning. UK authorities estimate 500 Britons have gone to fight in Iraq and Syria with Islamist militants. However, oppositions lawmakers question whether it is legal to do so. The White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “The most detailed intelligence assessment that I can offer from here is that there is no evidence or indication right now that ISIL is actively plotting to attack the United States homeland.” U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson believes while ISIS is not a threat at home, they prove to be a threat to Americans overseas notably the execution of American journalist James Foley and the threats of more killings to follow. Paul Cruickshank, a CNN terrorism analyst, said, “The threat is much greater in the UK, and that’s why you are seeing a raft of new measures in the UK to try and tackle this problem. They are very, very worried that ISIS may try and retaliate in some form or way.” Meanwhile, a U.S. drone strike against senior leaders of Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia Monday highlights continuing concern about extremists around the world. Will Geddes, a security analyst and managing director of International Corporate Protection, told CNN: “You will have various groups working together, sharing resources, sharing capability, and in this particular region, it’s important to try to dismantle it where possible” adding that Somalia’s porous borders mean it presents a particular risk. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said it would be “a mistake to take our eye off the ball when it comes it al Qaeda” and warned that the rise of ISIS could aid the terror network. He added: “With ISIS’s rise, it gives al Qaeda a prime opportunity to rebrand itself as being a more rational, more moderate voice of jihadism, and as a result I think there’s a lot of risks of more money channeling into the al Qaeda network.”

While Europe becomes increasingly concerned over the Islamic State, Pakistan and China face problems within their own government. Jack Chang and Kelvin Chan report, China: No Open Nominations For Hong Kong Leader, China’s legislature on Sunday will not allow open nominations in the inaugural vote for Hong Kong’s leader stating it would create chaos, while democracy activists in the Asian financial hub said that a long threatened mass occupation of the heart of the city will happen. The guidelines laid out by China’s communist leaders could pit Beijing against Hong Kong democracy supporters representing a large swath of society, including students, religious leaders and financial workers. Benny Tai, a leader of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace protest movement, said: “At this very moment, the path of dialogue has been exhausted.” Tai told reporters the group will launch “wave after wave of protest action” in the coming weeks “until we get to a point when we launch the all-out Occupy Central action.” Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, told a news conference in Beijing: “These rights come from laws, they don’t come from the sky. Many Hong Kong people have wasted a lot of time discussing things that are not appropriate and aren’t discussing things that are appropriate. He has to be responsible to Hong Kong and to the central government. If Hong Kong’s chief executive doesn’t love the country and love the party, then that can’t work in one country.” Occupy Central said the plan to block the Central financial district was “the last resort, an action to be taken only if all chances of dialogue have been exhausted and there is no other choice.” It said that “the occupation of Central will definitely happen,” without specifying a date. Meanwhile Sunday, the incumbent leader of the nearby Chinese-controlled casino capital of Macau, Fernando Chui, was elected to a second five-year term by a Beijing-friendly committee even though 95 percent of 8,688 votes cast in a similar referendum were in favor of universal suffrage in 2019. In Pakistan, anti-government protesters stomred the building and took the state television channel off the air requiring Pakisrani soldiers and paramilitary forces to secure the headquarters Monday, Syed Raza Hassa and Maria Golovnina reports, Pakistani Protesters Clash With Police. The article reports: “Protesters led by opposition leaders Imran Khan, a hero cricket player turned politician, and firebrand Muslim cleric Tahir ul-Qadri have been on the streets for weeks trying to bring down the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Protests descended into deadly chaos over the weekend, with demonstrators clashing with police in a central area near many government buildings and embassies. Three people were killed.” Sharif, who was toppled by the army in 1999 coup came back with a big election win in May last year and refused to quite amid protest leaders rejecting his offers of talks creating deadly clashes. Army chief General Raheel Sharif met Prime Minister Sharif on Monday, but it was unclear what they discussed. Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told Reuters that later on Monday another crackdown on protesters could occur warming protestors against storming government buildings : “The writ of the state must be enforced. We hope to make a decisive move sometimes later today, not in the evening but even before that. I personally feel that the next few hours will determine the course of coming events.” If the protests get out of hand, the military could step in to impose a curfew or martial law. However, if the army sides with the protestors and put pressure on Sharif to resign, then an interim government would be put into place and early parliamentary elections would be held to elect an new government. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Violence and destruction of private property and government buildings are not acceptable means of resolving political differences, however, and we strongly oppose any efforts to impose extra-constitutional change to the political system.” Some ruling party officials accuse the military of orchestrating the protests to weaken the government, while disagreements on how to handle Islamist militants and relations with India have also caused turmoil.

In North Korea, three detained Americans told the foreign media on Monday that they were allowed to contact their families and called for Washington to negotiate their freedom, the Associated Press reports, Americans detained in North Korea call for U.S. help. Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month, but do not know what they will be charged with or what the punishment is, while Kenneth Bae, serving a 15 year term, said his heath has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day. Talking to the Associate Press in Pyongyang, they said the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal. No date has been announced for a trial, but North Korea says Fowle and Miller committed Hostile acts that violate their status as tourists. In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said, “We have seen the reports of interviews with the three American citizens detained in North Korea. Securing the release of U.S. citizens is a top priority and we have followed these cases closely in the White House. We continue to do all we can to secure their earliest possible release.” Ventrell noted that the State Department has issued a travel warning recommending not to travel to North Korea. According to the Associated Press: “Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle, 56, lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, where he works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children aged 9, 10, and 12. North Korea says Miller, 24, entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. Miller refused to comment on whether he was seeking asylum. Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American missionary, has been held since November 2012. He was moved from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss but last month was sent back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labor. He said he has lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and has severe back pain, along with a sleep disorder. His family has said his health problems include diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.” The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send an envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to Pyongyang to seek a pardon for Bae and other U.S. detainees, but will no success as Washington has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and no embassy in Pyongyang. Instead, the Swedish Embassy has taken responsibility for U.S. consular affairs and met with Fowle and Miller. North Korea has been pushing tourism lately to bring in foreign cash, but remains highly sensitive to any action it deems political particular anything deemed to be Christian proselytizing. In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary who was spreading Christianity after he apologized and requested forgiveness.

Palestinian Israeli Ceasefire , Russia and Ukraine Push Their Boundaries and the Islamic State Militia Continues to Expand Its Middle Eastern Territory

https://i0.wp.com/media.cagle.com/82/2014/07/18/151093_600.jpg

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1824863!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_970/bill-bramhall-editorial-cartoon-obama-game.jpg

Israel withdrew most of its troops from Gaza on Sunday which could be a sign that Israel is winding down its month long offensive against Hamas leaving 1,800 Palestinians and 60 Israelis dead. AOL reports, Israel withdraws most troops from Gaza, even though Israel is close to completing its mission, heavy fighting continued with 10 Palestinians being killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike near a U.N. school, according to U.N. and Palestinians officials. The U.S. and United Nations condemned the attack. It is uncertain whether Israel would unilaterally end the war since Hamas officials vowed to continue their fight. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, confirmed most of the ground troops have pulled out of Gaza after destroying a majority of the Hamas tunnel network. He said Israel detected 30 tunnels dug along the border for what he called a “synchronized attack” on Israel. However, Lerner said the operation was not over and Israel will continue to target Hamas’ rocket firing capabilities as well as its ability to infiltrate Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voes to continue his assault against Hamas, but has come under international pressure to halt the fighting due to a high civilian death toll. U.N. officials say more than three quarters of the dead are civilians including the 10 killed on Sunday at a U.N. school in Rafah. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the attack a “moral outrage and a criminal act” and demanded a quick investigation, while the U.S. State Department said Washington was “appalled” by the “disgraceful” attack. Israel Cabinet minister Amir Peretz told channel 10: “It’s not a withdrawal. It’s setting up a new line that is a more controlled line with the air force doing its work.” One senior officials, under conditions of anonymity because he was discussing internal Hamas deliberations, said: “If Israel stops unilaterally, Hamas will declare victory and will not grant any security or truce to Israel. In this case, we are going to live under a war of attrition until a political solution is found.”

Unfortunately, a seven hour truce went into effect Monday after Israel agreed it would unilaterally hold fire in Gaza, but Palestinians immediately accused Israel of breaking the ceasefire agreement by bombing a house in Gaza, Reuters reports, Palestinians accuse Israel of immediately breaking 7-hour ceasefire that began Monday at 3am EST. An Israel military spokeswoman said she was checking into it, while Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said 15 people were wounded in the strike on a house in Shati camp of mostly women and children. An Israeli defense officials said the ceasefire would apply to all areas except Rafah where ground forces have intensified assaults after three soldiers died in a Hamas ambush Friday. While a Hamas envoy in Egypt negotiates a truce that Israel has shunned in anger, Sami Abu Zuhri, the group’s spokesman said: “The calm Israel declared is unilateral and aims to divert attention away from the Israeli massacres. We do not trust such a calm and we urge our people to exercise caution.” Meanwhile, Israeli Brigadier General Motti Almoz told Army Radio: “Redeployment lets us work on the tunnels, provides defense (of Israeli communities nearby) and lets the forces set up for further activity. There is no ending here, perhaps an interim phase.” According to Ibrahim Barzak and Peter Enav, Cease-fire slows Gaza war as Israeli bus attacked, while Israel declared the temporary ceasefire and troops withdrawals slowed violence on Monday in Gaza, an Israeli bus was attacked killing one person in Jerusalem which symbolizes the tensions simmering in the region. For the moment though, violence seems to be waning as Hamas rocket fire tapers off and Israel’s ground operation in Gaza winds down. According to the article: “Israel’s Channel 10 TV showed cellphone video of what it said was the attack, with the yellow excavator slamming its large shovel into the bus. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a police officer in the area opened fire and killed the attacker. A pedestrian also was killed, said Jerusalem district police chief Yossi Piranti.” Before the attacks, the seven hour Israeli ceasefire in Gaza was in effect , even though Israel continued to hit selected Palestinians target, the level of fighting was lower than previous days.

Fortunately, on Monday, as Josef Federman reports, Israel accepts Egyptian cease-fire plan, the Israeli government has finally accepted an Egyptian ceasefire deal to halt the month long war against Hamas militants in Gaza signaling the end of one of the bloodiest rounds of fighting, according to a senior Israeli official said. In addition, the official said a preliminary truce would begin at 8am Tuesday as the Israeli delegation would head to Egypt to work out a long term truce over the next three days. A delegation of Palestinian officials has negotiated with Egypt in recent days and representative have accept the proposal, while Hamas had no comment but has delegate presents at the time. Bassam Salhi, a member of the Palestinian delegation, said, “It’s clear now that the interest of all parties is to have a cease-fire. It’s going to be tough negotiations because Israel has demands too.” Under conditions of anonymity, the Israeli official said Israel will be watching the negotiation “with a certain amount of skepticism” given the previous failures.

Meanwhile, the Russian military is exercising their power as a show of their strength near the border with Ukraine, while Ukrainian troops cross over into Russia. Reuters reports, Russia Conducts Military Exercises With More Than 100 Aircraft Near Ukraine, Igor Kilmov quoted by Interfax news agency said it was the first session in a series to increase the unity of the air force this year as well as conduct missile practice with some of Russia’s newest frontline bombers and did not mention Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels are fighting the Ukrainian government. While, Laura Mills reports, Ukrainian soldiers cross border into Russia, a Russian border security official said 400 Ukrainian soldiers crossed into Russia, an Interfax news agency report said. There were conflicting reports on both sides of why the soldiers were there. The Russian official said the soldiers deserted the Kiev governments and the Russian side opened the corridor, however, a Ukrainian military official said the soldiers were forced into Russian territory by rebel fire after running out of ammunition. Vasily Malayev, head of the Federal Security Service’s border patrol in the Rostov region, told Interfax 438 soldiers on Monday were allowed to safely enter the country. A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in the east, Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, said the 72nd brigade army was pinned into their position due to a sustained barrage of fire from separatists forcing the brigade to split up into two sections. The battle in eastern Ukraine has been raging since April and claimed at least 1,129 civilians, according to a U.N. estimate. Though Russia denies any involvement, Ukraine and Western countries have accused Russia of providing the rebels with equipment and expertise.

On Sunday, Islamic State fighters claimed control of Iraq’s biggest dam, an oilfield and three more towns on Sunday inflicting their first major defeat on Kurdish forces since moving across norther Iraq in June, Ahmed Rasheed and Raheem Salman report, Islamic State Seizes Small Towns In Iraq’s North. Capturing the electricity generating Mosul Dam could allow Sunni militants to flood major Iraqi cities or withhold water in a bid to topple Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government. In addition, the Islamic state has seized the Ain Zalah pil field, adding to the four others it controls providing funding for their operation, and three towns. The group poses the biggest threat to OPEC member Iraq since Saddam Hussein fell in 2003 as it has already declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria to rule over Muslims. On Sunday, the group also fought in a border town far away in Lebanon symbolizing its ambition to spread across the Middle East. So far, it controls cities in Iraq’s Tigris and Euphrates valley s north and west of Baghdad and a large portion of Syria stretching from the Iraqi border in the east to Aleppo in the northwest. In a statement, the Islamic State said, “Hundreds fled leaving vehicles and a huge number of weapons and munitions and the brothers control many areas. The fighters arrived in the border triangle between Iraq, Syria and Turkey.” The Islamic State has tried to consolidate its gains by setting its sights on strategic towns near oil fields as well as border crossing with Syria so it can move supplies back and forth. Maliki’s opponents say the prime minister, a Shi’ite Islamist who is trying to stat in power for a third term after an inconclusive parliamentary election in April, is to blame for the insurgency due to excluding Sunnis from power. Additionally, Kurdish leaders call for Maliki to step down to create a more inclusive government in Baghdad. After Sunday’s withdrawal of Kurdish troops, the Kurdish region is pressing Washington for sophisticated weapons to help their fighters to push back the Islamist militants, according to U.S. and Kurdish officials. The Islamic State’s ambitions have caused other Arab states to take notice and fear their success will embolden militants region wide. Meanwhile, in Lebanon on Monday, thousands of civilians and Syrian refugees fled in packed cars and pickup trucks from an eastern border town where militants from Syria have overrun, Bassem Mroue reports, Thousands flee as Lebanese battle Syrian militants. The fleeing comes as Lebanese troops struggle to rid Arsal of the Syrian extremists marking the most serious spillover of violence from Syria’s cavil war into Lebanon and increasing fears that Lebanon is becoming a new front for Syria;s conflict, now in its third year. In all, at least 11 Lebanese troops have been killed and 13 missing in the Arsal clashes that erupted Saturday after Syrian militants crossed the border and overran army positions in the area.

China’s Continual Call for Democracy Goes Unheard

http://videos5.mediacorp.sg/g2MXhtbjoZU76YjdnyRAvsrwggWhvQQt/yeOkC802fbC1__xn4xMDoxOmdtO40mAx

Courtesy of Channel News Asia

On Tuesday, July 1,2014, tens of thousands of residents marched the downtown streets of Hong Kong during the annual pro-democracy protest. The march began in the streets of the former British colony to push for greater democracy fueled by anger over Beijing’s recent warning that the ultimate authority over the southern Chinese financial center belongs to them, Kelvin Chan of the Associate Press reports (More than 500 arrested after big HK democracy rally). The protest occurred only days after 800,000 residents voted in a mock referendum aimed at bolstering support for full democracy. Unfortunately, on Wednesday, Hong Kong police arrested more than 500 people who refused to leave a street in the city’s financial district, a day after the massive march to demand democracy that’s free from China’s interference. The march happens every year on the anniversary of the day China took over Hong Kong from British rule on June 1,1997 with the promise of autonomy for 50 years. However, the young residents of the city grow increasingly uneasy as Beijing tries to impose its authority over the freewheeling capitalist enclave, according to Chan. The fears are increasingly apparent especially after the pre-dawn crackdown of the Hong Kong police especially since actions by police as compared to mainland China have never been antagonistic.

Police confirmed that 511 people were arrested for unlawful assembly in the Central business district and prevented police from carrying out their duties. The protestors were warned to disperse and failed to do so in a timely manner forcing police to remove protestors who lay down on the streets with locked arms. The police started to evict the group at about 3 a.m., even though the protestors vowed to stay until 8 a.m. when the height of rush hour begins, with some leaving willingly and others being forcibly removed. Tuesday’s rally attracted somewhere between 98,000 and 510,000, depending on who you ask (police, organizers, researchers), while Beijing tried to keep the news of the march for democracy away from people in mainland China. The Chinese media did not report about it and comments about the protest were deleted from micro-blogs and social media, Chan reports. While China’s Communist leaders have promised to allow Hong Kong residents to vote for their leader in 2017, they have rejected calls to allow the public to name their own candidate and let a Beijing friendly committee hand pick them as it has done since the handover. Three weeks before the rally, the Chinese government released so called white papers saying Hong Kong’s autonomy is not inherent but authorized by the central government in Beijing. This move angered many protestors who on Tuesday held banners and posters urging democracy. Thousands of police kept watch and ordered the city’s trolleys to shut down to reduce overcrowding.

China in the Wake of a Devastating Quake

On Saturday, an earthquake in Sichuan province, killed at least 186 people injuring more than 11,000 leaving two dozen missing in rural communities around Ya’an city, along the same fault line as another quake to the north five years before that resulted in 90,000 people in Sichuan and neighboring areas being killed in one of the worst natural disasters in China’s history, AP reports. Many relatives search in the rubble in hopes of finding their loved ones still alive, while search and rescue has been working since Saturday to aid the victims and search for survivors.The Lushan and Boaxing counties this time were hardest hit on Saturday even though they escaped the worst of the 2008 quake yet residents said they would of benefited from the region’s rebuilding such as special reinforcements made to building and new evacuation procedures introduced. According to the Associated Press, relief teams flew in helicopters dynamiting landslides in order to reach isolated communities on Sunday. Many residents were upset with emergency teams as little aid was distributed among the areas effected and were busy taking away bodies while searching for survivors. Along the road in Longmen, children carried hand written signs reading “No water, no shelter.”

According to China’s earthquake administration, the earthquake measured a magnitude 7.0 while the U.S. Geological Survey recorded it at a 6.6 and struck at around 8 a.m. Saturday. Aftershocks could be felt throughout the region, leaving about ten thousand people in tents and cars unable to move back home or too afraid. The official totals are yet to be determined as numbers are still coming in but so far 186 people were killed, 21 missing and injured and 11,393 injured from Saturday’s quake as quoted by the Xinhua News Agency from the provincial emergency command center. The government has mobilized thousands of soldiers and others to the area as well as excavators, heavy machinery and even tents, blankets and other emergency supplies to aid the region.  The state media reported that two soldiers died after their vehicle slid off the road falling down a cliff. According to AP, the Chinese Red Cross will deploy relief teams with supplies of food, water, medicine and rescue equipment to disaster areas. The seat of Lushan country has been converted to a refugee camp with tents and volunteers serving noodles and boxed meals to survivors from stalls and vans. Large vans have been converted into mobile banks with ATMs, military medical trucks with X-rays and doctors giving first aid. The most severely injured were sent to the provincial capital as survivors try to deal with limited water and building inaccessibility leading to sanitation issues. The area is still experiencing aftershocks on Sunday while family members and friends try to contact their loved ones inside the crippled quake zone.

North Korea Ends Peace Pact With South As UN Sanctions Fuel Propaganda

North Korea Ends Peace Pact With South As UN Sanctions Fuel Propaganda.

For seven years the U.N. sanctions against North Korea have not deterred Pyongyang’s ambitions for nuclear weapons capable of reaching the United States, but in a way may have helped the Kim family through their propaganda to increase anti-U.S. sentiment and draw attention away from the failed government. The question on everyone’s mind is whether the new sanction passed on Thursday for North Korea’s latest nuclear test will end up any different than in the past. Since 2006, North Korea has conducted long range weapons test and underground nuclear test with the latest one being Feb. 12, even though several penalties from the U.N. and national sanctions from Washington, Tokyo, and others have been passed in order to curb their nuclear ambitions. According to analysts, the problem with sanctions is that outsiders are underestimating North Korea’s ability to survive even though the sanctions are meant to make life difficult for the country which is already dealing with poverty, suffered through a famine, and lost its Soviet supporter but still manages to get the upper hand. While the state media has yet to announce the sanctions, North Korean citizens share the same attitude as their leader by defying and dismissing past sanctions which only helps to strengthen the regime.

The U.N. resolution passed on Thursday will target the ruling class of North Korea through banning nations from exporting expensive jewelry, yachts, luxury automobiles and race cars to the North plus imposes new travel sanctions requiring countries to expel agents working in certain North Korean companies, according to the Associated Press. The U.N. believes that these sanctions will send a powerful message to North Korea, but some believe that they may also play into Kim Jong Un’s hands, according to Ahn Chan-il a political scientist at the World Institute for North Korea Studies in Seoul, as the outside chooses to punish North Korea that would allow Kim to build a powerful image like his father Kim Jong Il. The U.N. Security Council issued the resolution in direct reaction of Pyongyang conducting nuclear and missile testing which they considered a threat to international peace and stability. North Korea called the measure a double standard blaming the U.S. for the sanction and after the vote that passed the sanction North Korea states that they were canceling a hotline and a nonaggression pact with rival South Korea which has ended the armistice set about by the Korean War. Unfortunately the sanctions are not a perfect punishment as not only will the leadership pay but the average North Korean who is already facing economic difficulties which is pushing the country to a us against the world mentality.

 

 

Unfortunately, the only foreseeable problem is China, North Korea’s economic lifeline, which provides almost all the oil for the country as well as a generous amount of food aid. Their dependency has increased as the sanctions have with 95 percent of the products an estimated $3.5 billion imported to North Korean being from China in 2012 according to the International Trade Centre. The fact that Beijing is now supporting the new sanction could be a sign of growing frustration with its neighbor and ally, but the likelihood that China would dramatically change course by enforcing the U.N. resolution even though in the past it has not is relatively slim according to Marcus Noland, a North Korean watcher at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in an institute blog post. China has in the past been wary of putting pressure on Pyongyang for fear the government would collapses causing North Koreans to come into China leading to a loss of buffer against U.S. allied South Korea according to the Associated Press.

 

 

 

China Suspected Of Hacking Attacks Against The U.S.

China Suspected Of Hacking Attacks Against The U.S..

Week or so after the cyber attack on Facebook employee’s computers, Apple has reported a breach in their security system as well but after thorough investigation no data had been taken and will release an app to protect against this sort of attack again. According to a U.S. computer security company believes the hacking attacks were perpetrated by a secretive Chinese military unit prompting China to deny these allegations and accuse the U.S. of hacking them. The company, Mandiant, identified the People’s Liberation Army’s Shanghai based Unit 61398 as the group who likely carried out the attack and other attacks on a wide range of industries. On Monday Mandiant reported that “The nature of ‘Unit 61398’s’ work is considered by China to be a state secret; however, we believe it engages in harmful ‘Computer Network Operations’…It is time to acknowledge the threat is originating in China, and we wanted to do our part to arm and prepare security professionals to combat that threat effectively.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry doubts the evidence in the report and continues to deny the hacking. Spokesman Hong Lei during a daily news briefing said the attacks are extremely hard to trace to their origins since hacking attacks are transnational and anonymous. He continued,”arbitrary criticism based on rudimentary data is irresponsible, unprofessional and not helpful in resolving the issue.” Furthermore, Hong points out that the U.S. is behind hacking in China: “Of the above mentioned Internet hacking attacks, attacks originating from the United States rank first.”

Mandiant reports that Unit 61398 is located in China’s financial and banking hub and staffed by thousands fluent in English as well as computer programming and network operations. According to Mandiant, “hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organisations across a diverse set of industries beginning as early as 2006.” Most of the victims were in the U.S. with smaller numbers in Canada and Britain with data ranging from mergers and acquisitions to senior employees emails. U.S. officials in the past have complained about sanctioned trade secret theft, but limited public record have existed. The company traced Unit 61398’s presence to the internet and name it as a major contributor to operations against the U.S. companies. In November 2011, the U.S. National Counterintelligence Executive publicly decried China as the biggest known thief of U.S. trade secrets according to the Huff Post.