GlobalPost - Home C. 2014 GlobalPost, only republish with permission. Subscribers must independently license photographs supplied by third-parties en Chatter: Does Christine Lagarde have skeletons in the closet? <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Gaza ceasefire holds, Lagarde subject to formal investigation for 'negligence' and the 'rubble bucket challenge.' Done yours yet? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Emily Lodish </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p></p> Home Need to Know Regions Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:21:00 +0000 Emily Lodish 5942065 at Edinburgh’s feminist revolution <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A steep rise in the number of women comedians at this year’s Fringe Festival reflects changing social mores. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Geoghegan </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>EDINBURGH, <a href="">UK</a> — If there’s one place where print media is still very much alive and well, it’s here, in August.</p> <p>To walk along the Scottish capital’s cobbled streets is to run a gauntlet of kids with angular haircuts thrusting flyers and free magazines. Every wall seems to be plastered with posters advertising shows at the Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival.</p> <p>But there’s something different about the faces being advertised this year: There are more women than ever before.</p> <p>One of the main developments at this Fringe is the dramatic increase in the number of female comedians, up more than 60 percent from last year to almost 200 — even though that means women still front fewer than one in five shows.</p> <p>Britain’s comedy scene, with its workingmen’s clubs and ribald gags, hasn’t traditionally been very open to women. That’s no longer the case, says Sara Pascoe, whose show about history’s epic romances has won rave reviews at the Fringe this year.</p> <p>“Comedy has become a nicer environment,” she says. “It used to be a very sexist, fatist, misogynistic place. They were uninviting places and the jokes were nasty.”</p> <p>Now society is changing, she adds. “Audiences don’t want that any more.”</p> <p>The increase in female comedians is part of a wider social change in Britain that’s seen a spike in interest in feminist issues, including the banning of topless photographs in tabloid newspapers — spreads known as Page Three — and addressing the gender gap in pay.</p> <p>“What’s happening at the Edinburgh festival is a reflection of what’s happening on Twitter and blogs and lots of books being published,” Pascoe says. “It’s a cultural thing that’s happening in Britain right now.”</p> <p>It’s helped that female comics have finally started to receive critical recognition at the Fringe. Last year, Brigit Christie won the main comedy prize — only the third woman to do so in the award’s 33-year existence — and Adrienne Truscott landed the coveted panel prize for “Asking For It,” a show that tackled rape culture and rape jokes. She famously performed naked from the waist down.</p> <p>Christie accepted the award on behalf of all female comics, saying, “You had better watch out, we’re taking over!”</p> <p>Among those taking over is English comedian Zoe Lyons. A lively, inventive comic with a caustic wit, she’s spent a decade on the comedy circuit. One of the leading female lights at the Edinburgh Fringe, she says gender doesn’t play a large role in her performances.</p> <p>“When I started, it didn’t dawn on me that being a woman would make any difference. My main job is to make people laugh,” she says. “I talk about stuff I’m interested in, but that can be anything between the price of lobster and panpipe players.”</p> <p>One of the main reasons that’s changing, Lyons says, is a new emphasis on narrative and storytelling.</p> <p>“When you’re paid by a club to do 20 minutes on a Saturday night, you are employed to do it bang, bang, bang, make them laugh,” she says.</p> <p>In Edinburgh, however, sets are an hour long. “You can be a bit more indulgent,” she says. “Enjoy the time. Don’t worry if there hasn’t been a laugh for 30 seconds.”</p> <p>Comedy abhors anything that resembles a cozy consensus, however. There are already signs of a backlash against any signs of a feminist orthodoxy.</p> <p>In her show “Help the Frigid,” <a href="">Irish</a> comedian Eleanor Tiernan explores the conflict that comes from wanting to make jokes that don’t necessarily always support other women.</p> <p>“When you start saying to comedians, ‘We’re all on board, No More Page Three,’ people invariably kick off against it,” says comic critic Jay Richardson. “Comedians want to kick against the status quo.”</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">Kremlin to Russians: No food? No problem</a></strong></p> <p>The number of female comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe will doubtless continue to rise. Pascoe expects a first Fringe evenly divided among the genders will take place soon.</p> <p>However, genuine equality won’t come through numbers, she says, but through an acceptance that gender isn’t an arbiter of funniness.</p> <p>“If a woman is bad, it’s not because she’s a woman,” she says. “It’s because she’s really bad.”</p> <p>“If you have a bad night, it’s because you made some mistakes. It’s not ‘Oh, if only had a [penis], it would have been OK.’” </p> Arts Entertainment Want to Know United Kingdom Wed, 27 Aug 2014 04:32:27 +0000 Peter Geoghegan 6238488 at Myanmar struggles to kick a deadly addiction <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The world’s fourth most common psychoactive habit delivers a potent buzz and lots of red saliva. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sebastian Strangio </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>YANGON — When Myo Min Tun smiles he shows red-stained teeth, the mark of the long-time betel user. “If you chew three continuously, it’s equal to smoking a pack of cigarettes,” the 36-year-old says, picking up his daily fix of betel quids — small parcels of areca nuts and tobacco, wrapped in betel leaves coated with slaked lime.</p> <p> Tun says he started chewing betel as a teenager, and now goes through about 40 parcels per day, which keep him going through long days at the tea shop where he works in downtown Yangon. “When I eat a lot, my heart beats faster,” he says. “I can’t stop.”</p> <p> Betel nut — or "kun," as it is known locally — is a popular pick-me-up in Myanmar, a mild stimulant which gives users a burst of energy similar to that from a cup of tea or coffee. In the streets of this crumbling former capital, betel sellers sit on nearly every corner. The pavement is covered in splotches of red betel juice spat out by chewers.</p> <p> Use of betel nut (so-called for its combination of betel leaves and areca nuts) is common throughout Asia, but few countries chew their way through as much as Myanmar, which <a href="">accounts for</a> more than half of Southeast Asia's betel consumption, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Recent figures <a href="">show</a> that approximately one in four people in the cities chomp down regularly on betel quids, whose combination of areca nut, betel leaf and tobacco produce a potent buzz and a lot of excess red saliva.</p> <p> But Myanmar’s kun aficionados could be getting a lot more than a stained smile. Extensive research has shown that chewing betel quids has dire health consequences, including cancer. Professor Ying-chin Ko, a researcher at <a href="">China</a> Medical University in Taiwan, who has studied the health effects of betel quids since the 1990s, says betel chewing is closely correlated with various forms of oral cancer, whether or not tobacco is included in the packages. The habit has also been linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. “Betel nut is an addictive substance, and it’s not easy to give up,” Ko says.</p> <p> Betel has deep cultural and historical roots in South and Southeast Asia. It is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts, and has turned up on teeth excavated from Bronze Age sites in modern-day <a href="">Vietnam</a>. Throughout the region it plays a role in marriage ceremonies and is prized as a folk cure for everything from acne and indigestion to bad breath. In some places it acts as a social lubricant and a prelude to courtship. In Cambodia, a traditional saying <a href="">instructs</a>, “a quid of betel nut is the prelude to all conversation.”</p> <p> Today there are about 600 million betel users worldwide — most of them in Asia. The WHO ranks it as the fourth most commonly used psychoactive substance after alcohol, tobacco, and caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea. “You get dizzy the first time, but you get used to it. It’s kind of like smoking,” says betel seller Maung Oo, 50, sitting behind a table covered with stacked betel leaves and rusty tobacco tins from <a href="">India</a>, some bearing grim health warnings.</p> <p> As his customers line up for their morning quid, Maung Oo works quickly, arranging the betel leaves in rows and dabbing each with sour-smelling lime solution. He adds chunks of areca nut and a sprinkle of dried tobacco to each. Sweeteners are sometimes added to taste, as are spices like aniseed or cardamom. He then wraps the quids in small plastic bags sealed with toothpicks. Who are his best customers? “Burmese, Indians, Muslims — all kinds of people,” he says, flashing his own red-stained smile. “You can see from their mouths.”</p> <p> In 2006 Myanmar passed a tobacco control law banning smoking and betel-chewing in public places such as schools and hospitals. But health experts say the sale of kun remains, and the ban goes virtually unenforced. “It’s very cheap. For 300 kyats [about US$0.35] you can get four packages,” says Dr. Tint Tint Kyi, a senior consultant physician at Insein General Hospital in Yangon. Treating betel addicts, she has seen first-hand how hard it is to kick the habit. Even when users are aware of the dangers, many continue to chew. “Addiction is very dangerous. Highly addicted people don’t want to listen at all,” she says. “It’s a social disease.”</p> <p> Some Asian countries have instituted more stringent controls on betel nut. Last year the government of Papua New Guinea <a href="">banned</a> the practice of chewing it in the capital Port Moresby, but this was more to eradicate the red stains on the sidewalks than to promote public health.</p> <p> Another problem is that many anti-tobacco laws focus on smoking rather than smokeless forms of tobacco consumption like betel quids. “This habit really undermines our efforts,” says Dr. Nyo Nyo Kyaing, a regional advisor for the World Health Organization’s Tobacco-Free Initiative. “People are still not fully aware of the hazards, enforcement is weak and the taxes are low so it is easily affordable.” In addition to educating people about the health effects of kun, she says the laws need to be updated to include betel quid in anti-smoking campaigns and regulations.</p> <p> U Soe Thu, 23, is aware of the health problems, but chews kun anyway. He says a quid every few hours helps him stay alert during long shifts at a hotel in central Yangon. “I’m a bit addicted now. I can only stop for one or two days,” Thu admits, taking a small bag of green betel quids from a vendor.</p> <p> “It feels like something’s missing. And then the sourness in the mouth makes me want to chew it again.”</p> Want to Know Asia-Pacific Emerging Markets Myanmar Wed, 27 Aug 2014 04:32:24 +0000 Sebastian Strangio 6234793 at French President Francois Hollande unveils new cabinet <!--paging_filter--><p>President Francois Hollande replaced his maverick leftist economy minister with a former Rothschild partner on Tuesday in a reshuffle intended to reconcile his efforts to revive the stagnant French economy with deficit-cutting orthodoxy.</p> <p>The shake-up is the latest episode in the wrangling across <a href="">Europe</a> about how much budgetary rigor the region's economies can bear as they recover from financial crises. For Hollande, who is revamping his government for a second time in two years, it could be his last chance to make a success of his presidency.</p> <p>Arnaud Montebourg, ejected from the key economy ministry post on Monday after his latest tirade against German-enforced "austerity" in the euro zone, was replaced by Emmanuel Macron.</p> <p>Macron, a 36-year-old former merchant banker, acted as Hollande's top economic adviser until June and was widely known in French business circles as their "ear" at Hollande's presidential palace, otherwise largely packed with technocrats.</p> <p>The new cabinet makes its debut just a few weeks ahead of tough negotiations at home and with EU peers on a 2015 budget widely expected to break promises to <a href="">Brussels</a> over deficit cuts.</p> <p>Sources close to Hollande said the new cabinet, whose names were read out on the steps of his Elysee Palace, would carry out his plan of reconciling pro-business measures to boost growth — including 40 billion euros in corporate tax cuts — with promises to adhere to EU budget rules.</p> <p>"We need it to act in such a way as to ensure solidarity, respect and consistency," one source said of Hollande's bid to draw a line under two years of confused leadership that has seen his popularity ratings spiral to record lows.</p> <p>Hollande's former coalition partners, the left-wing Greens, will field no ministers in the new cabinet. Senior Green Jean-Vincent Place said "the conditions were not met" for them to have a role in government.</p> <p><strong>'Overdue'</strong></p> <p>Finance Minister Michel Sapin kept the role in which he has tried to reassure EU partners that <a href="">France</a> will finally mend its public finances despite repeatedly failing to bring its deficit below an EU-endorsed limit of three percent of output. Sapin was undermined by Montebourg's public questioning of the EU rules.</p> <p>"After the unacceptable comments from the ejected economy minister, this step was overdue," <a href="">Germany</a>'s EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said earlier of the French reshuffle.</p> <p>"This move clearly shows that the right wing of the Socialist party is also able to speak louder," wrote ING's Julien Manceaux in a note to clients, calling the choice of Macron "a very good signal to France's European partners".</p> <p>Two other rebels, culture minister Aurelie Filippetti and education minister Benoit Hamon, were replaced by existing ministers solidly loyal to the increasingly centrist line that Hollande has set for his Socialist government since January.</p> <p>Valls handed in his government's resignation on Monday after Hollande judged that the outspoken Montebourg had gone too far by attacking his economic recovery plan and crucial euro zone partner Germany's "obsession" with austerity.</p> <p>While Montebourg's appeals for fiscal loosening aimed at boosting growth have started to gain traction in some quarters outside France, others insist that trimming welfare systems and state spending are needed to make economies more competitive.</p> <p>At stake is the slender majority of Hollande's Socialists in the lower house of parliament which is due to examine the budget bill and other reforms, including a liberalization of France's highly regulated services sector, in the coming weeks.</p> <p>If around 40 leftist Socialist deputies feel under-represented by the new cabinet, they could abstain or oppose the forthcoming reforms. The downside for them is that, given the unpopularity of the ruling majority, they would likely lose their seats if a rebellion triggered new elections.</p> <p>Filippetti earlier played down speculation that the existing ministers would seek to lure away leftist deputies from the government camp and so undermine Hollande's fragile majority.</p> <p>"It's not our aim to provoke a government crisis. I will support the new government," the ex-culture minister told BFM-TV, saying she planned to focus her work on the depressed region of northeastern France where she is a Socialist deputy.</p> <p>The European debate about how to kickstart growth while not undermining public finances is not just felt in France.</p> <p>Austria's Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger resigned on Tuesday after drawing fire for his refusal to cut taxes unless they can be financed without new levies.</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander in Paris,; Michelle Martin in Berlin and the Vienna bureau; editing by Gareth Jones)</p> Need to Know Europe Tue, 26 Aug 2014 20:05:38 +0000 Mark John and Julien Ponthusm, Thomson Reuters 6241387 at Will the #RubbleBucketChallenge help raise awareness for Gaza? <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The Ice Bucket Challenge has done wonders for ALS. Now Palestinians have a new challenge for you. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Laura Colarusso </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>By now, most of us have seen videos of our friends, family members, and colleagues dumping buckets of ice water on their heads in support of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, research. The gambit has <a href="">raised</a> about $80 million, but perhaps more importantly, it's become a viral marketing tool, raising awareness for a devastating neurological affliction that affects a smaller number of people — and therefore gets less media attention and funding — than cancer or heart disease.</p> <p>Which leads us to Gaza, where one journalist is hoping his version of the "ice bucket challenge" will get people thinking about the struggles of the Palestinian people. In his video, which has been dubbed the "<a href="">rubble bucket challenge</a>," Ayman al Aloul implores the international community to help end the suffering. Over the past seven weeks, much of <a href="">Gaza</a> has been destroyed and more than 2,000 Gazans (along with several dozen Israelis) have died in the latest go-round of fighting between Hamas and <a href="">Israel</a>. </p> <p>"This challenge is not for specific people but for all people who sympathize with the Palestinian people," says Aloul, according to the subtitles. "We do not ask for material aid. Anybody who wants to help Gaza should invent his own idea."</p> <p>Standing amid the wreckage of a demolished building, Aloul looks into the camera and notes that water is tough to come by in Gaza. So, he has a mixture of rocks, sand and construction debris poured over his head.</p> <p>As of Tuesday morning, the rubble bucket challenge had roughly 4,000 likes on its <a href="">Facebook Page</a>. And, the hashtags #dustbucketchallenge and #remainsbucketchallenge were trending on social media sites.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="510" src="//" width="100%"></iframe></p> Conflict Zones Want to Know Israel and Palestine Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:46:00 +0000 Laura Colarusso 6241266 at UN cargo helicopter crashes in South Sudan warzone <!--paging_filter--><p>A UN cargo helicopter crashed Tuesday in South Sudan's warzone region of Unity state, the UN peacekeeping mission said, adding it was "deeply concerned about the fate of the crew."</p> <p>The UN mission said it had "dispatched a search and rescue team" to the area, near the northern oil town of Bentiu, one of the hardest fought over areas in the country's more than eight-month-long civil war.</p> <p>The Mi-8 helicopter, which generally carries between three and five crew members, crashed about six miles south of Bentiu.</p> <p>"The mission lost contact with the helicopter, which was on a routine cargo flight from Wau to Bentiu," around 1130 GMT, the United Nations mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement.</p> <p>"Investigations regarding the cause of the incident will begin as soon as possible."</p> <p>The area has seen recent heavy battles between government and rebel forces, with the town of Bentiu badly damaged in the months of fighting.</p> <p>There was no indication given as to what had caused the crash.</p> <p>There have been previous crashes. Last year a UN helicopter crash landed on its way from South Sudan to Ethiopia, injuring four crew members.</p> <p>In 2012, South Sudan gunmen shot down a UN helicopter, killing all four <a href="">Russian</a> crew onboard.</p> <p>UN cargo helicopters are vital to supplying peacekeeping bases across the impoverished nation, as well as providing food aid for civilians, with aid agencies warning of the risk of famine should fighting continue.</p> <p>Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.8 million have fled civil war sparked by a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar.</p> <p>Over 40,000 civilians are sheltering in the UN camp in Bentiu alone, some of the almost 100,000 civilians in UN bases who fled there to escape killings and massacres.</p> <p>Rebel forces in Unity are led by warlord Peter Gadet, who has been slapped with sanctions by both the <a href="">United States</a> and <a href="">European</a> Union for atrocities.</p> <p>Gadet on Saturday seized a UN helicopter that landed near Bentiu carrying ceasefire monitors.</p> <p>One ceasefire monitor died during the incident and the others were released.</p> Africa Need to Know Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:02:00 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6241199 at Social media users censored how they TRULY felt about Snowden's NSA leaks <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> New Pew Research study finds people don't share as much as we think they do on social media. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Allison Jackson </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Studies have long shown that people tend to keep their opinions to themselves when they believe the majority of those around them don't share their views.</p> <p>There's even a name for this phenomenon. It's called the "spiral of silence."</p> <p>The theory was first proposed by <a href="">German</a> political scientist <a href="">Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann</a> in 1974, but it's a human trait that has probably existed since we were clubbing each other back in the Stone Age.</p> <p>Then along came the Internet and the explosion of social media networks, and suddenly people had places where they could share their views without fear of being physically attacked.</p> <p>It was widely believed that websites such as Facebook and Twitter would spawn a new age of political discourse by giving people the courage to freely express their opinions on issues even when their views were not shared by the majority.</p> <p>Well, guess what? A <a href="">new study</a>, just published today by Pew Research Center, says it didn’t happen.</p> <p>It turns out people are actually <em>less</em> likely to share their opinions on social media than they are in face-to-face settings such as family dinners and water-cooler conversations with colleagues.</p> <p>And if people think their social media friends and followers disagree with their view, they are less likely to discuss the issue at all — not in cyberspace or in the physical presence of other humans. (Unless your name is <a href="">Richard Dawkins</a>, of course.)</p> <p>The report entitled "Social Media and the 'Spiral of Silence'" examined the willingness of 1,801 <a href="">Americans</a> to share their opinions on and offline about a divisive news story and political issue that broke in 2013 and remains a huge deal: former NSA contractor <a href="">Edward Snowden&rsquo;s</a> revelations of widespread US government surveillance of phone and email records. </p> <p>How did people handle Snowden and the NSA on social media? Here's a snapshot of Pew's findings. </p> <p><strong>86 percent of respondents said they were willing to discuss Snowden’s explosive revelations in person, while only 42 percent of Facebook and Twitter users were willing to post their opinion about the same issue. </strong></p> <p><img src="" width="670"></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(59, 58, 38); font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px;">AFP/Getty Images</span></p> <p><strong>Of the 14 percent who were reluctant to discuss the NSA surveillance program in face-to-face conversations, almost none were willing to post their views on social media either.</strong></p> <p><img src="" width="670"></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(59, 58, 38); font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px;">Matt Cardy/Getty Images</span></p> <p>That pours a big bucket of icy cold water on the notion that the emergence of social media networks would encourage people to share views they would not otherwise express.</p> <p>While the researchers didn't explore the reasons why the respondents self-censored, previous studies on the spiral of silence have found people don't speak out for fear of isolation and ostracism. There's also a fear that a prospective employer might find the posts and not like what they read. </p> <p><strong>Even allowing for age differences, Facebook and Twitter users were less likely to express their opinions in many face-to-face settings, particularly if they believed their social media friends and followers didn't share their view.</strong></p> <p><img src="" width="670"></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(59, 58, 38); font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px;">AFP/Getty Images</span></p> <p>The researchers are not entirely sure why that's the case, but one possible reason could be related to social media users' greater awareness of the opinions of others in their network; i.e. they know lots of people don't agree with them so why go and provoke an argument at dinner. </p> <p>They may also have "witnessed those with minority opinions experiencing ostracism, ridicule or bullying online, and that this might increase the perceived risk of opinion sharing in other settings," they said.</p> <p><strong>People were more willing to share their opinions about the Snowden leaks on and offline if they believed their audience agreed with them.</strong></p> <p><img src="" width="670"></p> <p><span style="color: rgb(59, 58, 38); font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px;">AFP/Getty Images</span></p> <p>In other words, we don't like to cause confrontation. That was particularly the case at work, where people were nearly three times more likely to enter into a conversation about the NSA surveillance program if they believed their colleagues agreed with them. On Facebook, people were twice as likely to discuss the issue if they felt their network of friends and followers shared the same opinion.</p> <p>But not everyone with an unpopular opinion about Snowden's revelations or the government's surveillance program self-censors.</p> <p>Those who felt they knew a lot about the topic, had very strong opinions and/or a high-level of interest were more likely to discuss the subject, whether it was on social media or in person.</p> Want to Know United States Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:01:00 +0000 Allison Jackson 6240598 at Ukraine detains Russian paratroopers who crossed into its territory on a 'special mission' <!--paging_filter--><p>Update:</p> <p>Ukraine said on Tuesday its forces had captured a group of Russian paratroopers who had crossed into Ukrainian territory on a "special mission" — but Moscow said they had ended up there by mistake.</p> <p>The Ukrainian military meanwhile reported pro-Russian separatist forces were shelling the town of Novoazovsk and buildings there, including a hospital, were ablaze.</p> <hr><p>Ukrainian security services on Monday released video footage purporting to show Russian servicemen who were captured by Ukrainian government forces while fighting alongside pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine.</p> <p>The footage, which is likely to fuel allegations from Kyiv and its Western allies of Russian involvement in the war, appeared on the day the Russian and Ukrainian leaders are to meet for talks in the Belarussian capital to try to end the conflict.</p> <p><a href="">Russia</a> denies giving military help to the separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.</p> <p>Ukraine's state security service said on Monday it had detained 10 Russian paratroopers who had crossed into Ukrainian territory from Russia in a column of several dozen armed infantry vehicles.</p> <p>In footage posted on the official Facebook page of the Ukrainian government's "anti-terrorist operation," the men were shown dressed in camouflage fatigues.</p> <p>One of them, who identified himself as Ivan Milchakov, listed his personal details, including the name of the paratroop regiment he said is based in the Russian town of Kostroma.</p> <p>"I did not see where we crossed the border. They just told us we were going on a 70-kilometer march over three days," he said.</p> <p>"Everything is different here, not like they show it on television. We've come as cannon fodder," he said in the video.</p> <p>Another man in the footage, who gave his name as Sergeant Aleksei Generalov, said: "Stop sending in our boys. Why? This is not our war. And if we weren't here, none of this would have happened. They would have sorted things out with the government themselves."</p> <p>The Russian servicemen were detained with their personal documents and weapons, near the small town of Amvrosiyivka in Donetsk region, the Ukrainian state security service said.</p> <p>"Officially they are on military exercises in various corners of Russia. In reality they are involved in military aggression against Ukraine," Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said in a Facebook post.</p> <p>Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday dismissed reports of a Russian incursion into Ukraine, saying it was "disinformation" by the authorities in Kyiv.</p> Need to Know Europe Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:58:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6241068 at Did the Khmer Rouge really commit genocide? <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Whether the regime’s hideous brand of cruelty actually qualifies as ‘genocide’ will soon go on trial in Cambodia. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Denise Hruby </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Like many elderly people, Halamas believes everything was better back in the day.</p> <p> In her case, it’s easy to imagine why.</p> <p> The gaunt but well-dressed 73-year-old, who wears her gold jewelery at home on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, lost everything in the brutal Khmer Rouge revolution of the mid-1970s.</p> <p> Her house, a wooden structure on stilts, is in the exact same spot as it used to be, four decades ago. “But it was much bigger and way more beautiful than now. Then the Khmer Rouge came, and we had to leave everything behind,” she said.</p> <p> For more than four years Halamas and her husband Muhammad Sat witnessed torture and starvation. They lived in constant fear of execution. Then they returned to the place where they had fallen in love and started to raise a family.</p> <p> “Nothing was left, it was all gone. We lived in shacks and tried to make money, so that little by little, we could rebuild our house,” she said, as she scooped rice out of a green tub. Halamas' eyes glistened with tears. Her husband nodded quietly.</p> <p> At least one out of every six Cambodians perished under the fanatic Maoist regime, which used force to create a society led by uneducated farmers. The wealthy, educated and urbanites were labeled class enemies and driven to the countryside to live in settlements akin to concentration camps.</p> <p> As members of the ethnic Cham minority, the ordeal was particularly risky for Halamas and Muhammad. Yale historian Ben Kiernan calculates that 36 percent of the Cham — a Muslim community that has lived in Cambodia for centuries — perished under the regime.</p> <p> Now, the Cham's plight is central to a trial that will soon be making news from Phnom Penh — which will address the question of whether the regime was actually genocidal.</p> <p> No one seriously disputes that the Khmer Rouge were among the most heinous killers of the bloody and war-ravaged 20th century.</p> <p> Yet while the regime’s is commonly labeled “genocidal,” in fact no Khmer Rouge official has yet been convicted of that particular crime. And 35 years after the Khmer Rouge were ousted, well-intentioned experts debate whether or not the term legitimately applies.</p> <p> The most widely accepted definition of the crime — from the United Nations’ 1948 Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted after the Holocaust — specificies that genocide involves intentional killing of a specific national, ethnic, racial or religious group.</p> <p> Historians differ over whether the Khmer Rouge had the requisite intentions to eliminate particular groups, or whether their brand of killing — perpetrated through violence, disease, hunger and gross negligence — was essentially more democratic.</p> <p> Kiernan, director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University and an expert on the Khmer Rouge, is among those who argue that genocide was committed.</p> <p> “Their religion, language and culture, large villages and autonomous networks threatened the atomized, closely supervised society that the Pol Pot leadership planned,” Kiernan wrote in <a href="">"Centuries of Genocide</a>." The 36 percent death rate for the Cham “was double the death rate suffered by the country’s ethnic Khmer majority,” he wrote, repeatedly using the word “genocide” to describe the atrocities.</p> <p> In contrast, another foremost scholar on modern Cambodia’s history, David P. Chandler, recommends caution with the Cambodia context.</p> <p> “Keep the quote marks or add the word ‘alleged,’” Chandler said. Under the UN definition, a genocide of the Muslim Cham will be “almost impossible to prove” as the intent to eradicate them was missing.</p> <p> “To support charges of genocide against the Cham, some … have pointed to their being made to eat pork, stop saying prayers and cut their hair. This is extreme harassment, rather than genocide,” he said.</p> <p> As he spoke to GlobalPost, Muhammad Sat’s recollections tended to support Chandler’s point of view. He said the best chance to stay alive — whether for the Cham or for the majority Khmer — was to assimilate as much as possible.</p> <p> “Anyone who was caught praying would be executed immediately, I think that was the case for us and also for Buddhists,” who make up the majority religion in Cambodia, said Muhammad Sat.</p> <p> As he talked, he kept returning to the topic of food. He described how large the pots in the camp’s kitchen were, and the handful of rice that would be used to make porridge for dozens.</p> <p> He doesn’t believe that he was targeted any more than others who came from the city. “They didn’t care who you are. If you prayed, you were executed, no matter if you were Buddhist or Muslim.”</p> <p> In October, the Khmer Rouge tribunal is scheduled to hear testimony from Cham survivors like Muhammad Sat, as well as members of the <a href="">Vietnamese</a> community, to determine whether co-defendants Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea are guilty of genocide — and if the term so widely used to describe the Khmer Rouge’s frenzy is suitable.</p> <p> In a previous trial, the two were already found guilty of crimes against humanity. For that, they were sentenced to life in prison.</p> <p> “The convictions earlier this month in case 002 only really covered a very small fraction of the crimes that Khieu Samphan and Noun Chea are alleged to have committed, and it’s critical that the wider issue of genocide be addressed by the next phase of the trial,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s <a href="">Asia</a> division.</p> <p> William Schabas, an expert on human rights law and genocide who currently heads a team investigating war crimes allegedly committed by <a href="">Israel</a>, said the new trial in Cambodia “has been driven by a desire to salvage the word 'genocide' so that it can be applied to at least some small part of the Khmer Rouge activities.”</p> <p> Public and political enthusiasm for the trial, however, remains low.</p> <p> “I have difficulty understanding the wisdom behind concluding a trial of two very old people with a conviction for crimes against humanity, sentencing them to life imprisonment, and then starting all over with another trial for genocide,” Schabas wrote in an email.</p> <p> All that and the $200 million that were spent to find justice for the victims matters little to Muhammad Sat.</p> <p> “I feel indifferent about the tribunal, and I don’t really follow it,” he said.</p> <p> He does, however, acknowledge that the proceedings might matter more to those who lost family members during the Khmer Rouge.</p> <p> Muhammad Sat worked as a chef in the cantina, a position that allowed him to steal food and thus helped his wife and two children survive.</p> <p> “We are Cham, but we were luckier than others,” he said.</p> Want to Know Cambodia Vietnam Tue, 26 Aug 2014 05:16:54 +0000 Denise Hruby 6240375 at Turkey's emergency room doctors are tired of getting beaten up <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The past 10 to 15 years have seen increasing numbers of attacks on health workers in Turkey. Most of the time, it’s because patients are tired of waiting in line. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Dalia Mortada </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>ISTANBUL, <a href="">Turkey</a> — Imagine you’re in the ER, waiting to be seen by the attending physician. It’s been an hour. You ask how much longer. You’re told to check the list. Then, the guy next to you stabs the doctor.</p> <p>In Turkey, this actually happens.</p> <p>“Two of my colleagues got their arms broken, one was stabbed with a pair of surgical scissors,” says Caner Celik, recalling a day last spring. “Two others were bruised up.” Celik is an emergency room doctor. In this country, that means he’s a target.</p> <p>The past 10 to 15 years have seen increasing numbers of attacks on health workers in Turkey. Most of the time, it’s because patients are tired of waiting in line.</p> <p>The hospital where Celik works has one of the highest rates of violence in Istanbul, he says, but abuse can be found anywhere — and it's dissuading medical students from certain specialties.</p> <p>Professor Emin Adas, a sociologist who has studied the growing phenomenon of health worker abuse, says that 70 percent of all physicians in Turkey, at least one time in their career, have been the targets of a physical attack. “There are some specializations that have a higher risk for confrontation,” he explains, like emergency medicine or surgery. “Fewer students are specializing in those branches,” he says.</p> <p>In Celik’s experience, that’s true. “We had vacancies for 10 ER residencies,” which last about four years in Turkey. “Not one person applied for the openings this year,” Celik says.</p> <p>While there isn’t one obvious reason for the increase in violence, there are a few theories.</p> <p>One possible contributing factor is the sharp divide between the perceived quality of private hospitals and those of public hospitals, which has stoked resentment in Turkey.</p> <p>But beyond the usual issues that plague extensive public health systems, such as overcrowded waiting rooms and long waits, Adas points to the demonization of doctors in the debate surrounding healthcare reform in the early 2000s.</p> <p>“Doctors didn’t like the provision that banned them from working in private practices outside of their public hospital work hours,” he says. Physicians argued that the extra income helped supplement their public salaries — today averaging $1,500 a month for an ER doctor — and allowed them to give more specialized care. “The government framed that [argument] as, ‘Doctors who are against these reforms are working against the people and they are basically looking after their own shallow narrow interests.’” To the general public, who overwhelmingly welcomed the reforms, doctors appeared greedy, Adas says, which makes them targets for attack when patients or their relatives believe they’re not getting proper care.</p> <p>Casting doctors as villains was easy in a society already skeptical of medical professionals’ priorities, where private medical care is a booming business. “When I took my mom to the hospital 20 years ago the doctor barely looked at her and handed his business card,” says Ramazan Ercan, a snowy-haired man of about 50, waiting for treatment at a public hospital in central Istanbul. Ercan, like many others who had similar experiences, was put off. “He told us, ‘Come see me at my private clinic, this is my fee.’ That was wrong, it was not ethical.” Ercan says he’s grateful for the reforms. He doesn’t mind waiting for his migraine treatment. “At least I can afford it.”</p> <p>He chalks up increased attacks to long lines and anxious patients. “You have to understand that it’s added stress when someone is sick and you don’t know why,” he says.</p> <p>While medical students do seem to be avoiding the ER, the violence isn’t dissuading people from becoming doctors altogether. “In the past 10 years we have seen about a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in medical students,” Adas says. But with patient visits jumping three to four times in the same period, demand for physicians far outstrips supply.</p> <p>Sinem, Celik’s wife who is also an ER doctor, says if she had a chance to do it all again she wouldn’t join the profession. One incident helped her reach that conclusion: “A patient’s relative slapped me across the face after I tried to explain to him we had to change shifts with the next doctors,” she described. When other doctors stepped in, the fight grew out of control, and doctors ended up with black eyes and dislocated shoulders. “They went to court and the guys who attacked us got probation.”  </p> <p>“I’ve given a huge part of my life to medical practice … only to end up in a place where I’m afraid of being threatened or hurt or even being killed,” Sinem laments. That fear can be debilitating.</p> <p>“Once, when I was training outside of Van [in eastern Turkey], an 80-year-old patient arrived to the hospital already dead,” she begins, laughing uncomfortably at what she calls a “tragic comedy.” “The patient’s relatives told the doctor, ‘You need to save her, or else consider yourself dead.’” The doctor called the main hospital in a nearby city, who advised him to have the patient transported there. If the doctors said the patient died in the ambulance, Sinem Celik explained, no doctor could get blamed. Amazingly, it worked.</p> <p>If the fear of being killed seems exaggerated, it’s not. In 2012, a cancer patient’s grandson killed 26-year-old physician Ersin Arslan after the elderly man passed away. “Since Ersin Arslan was killed, the fear of being murdered by a patient’s relatives has become more prevalent,” Celik says.</p> <p>New services were quickly implemented after Arslan’s murder launched the issue of doctor abuse onto the national stage. Among the new provisions are an emergency hotline to report violence as it is happening, free legal assistance to help doctors prosecute attackers and more than a 10-fold jump in security personnel (usually contracted out to private companies), according to the government. A special parliamentary health commission now exists to push provisions like these through. Still, doctors criticize the government for doing too little too late, and they say they don’t trust the judicial system to rule fairly.</p> <p>“At most, when someone has been found guilty of attacking me, they get off on probation and will have to pay a fine if they commit the same crime within a few years,” Celik shrugs.</p> <p>As a result, Celik says, it has become tough to do his job properly. “Unfortunately, the first thing we feel is fear.”</p> Want to Know Europe Middle East Turkey Tue, 26 Aug 2014 05:16:00 +0000 Dalia Mortada 6240640 at Boko Haram says it is ruling the Nigerian town of Gwoza by Islamic law <!--paging_filter--><p>The leader of <a href="">Nigeria</a>'s Islamist group Boko Haram said his fighters were now ruling the captured northeastern town of Gwoza "by Islamic law," in the first video to state a territorial claim in more than five years of violent insurrection.</p> <p>The Nigerian military was quoted in local press as denying that Boko Haram was in control of the town, although security sources and some witnesses said police and military there had been pushed out.</p> <p>Abubakar Shekau's videoed speeches, often as chilling for a rambling incoherence as for any message they contain, have become a regular feature of the militant leader's bid to project himself as public enemy number one in <a href="">Africa</a>'s biggest economy.</p> <p>His forces have killed thousands since launching an uprising in 2009, and are seen as the biggest security threat to the continent's leading energy producer.</p> <p>In the latest one released through his network late on Sunday, the militant who says he is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria, said his forces were now in control of the hilly border town of Gwoza, near the frontier with Cameroon, after more than a week of fighting there.</p> <p>"Allah has granted us success in Gwoza because we have risen to do Allah's work," Shekau says, reading out a statement off a notebook, with two masked gunmen on each side of him and three four wheel drive vehicles behind him in thinly forested bush.</p> <p>"Allah commands us to rule Gwoza by Islamic law. In fact, he commands us to rule the rest of the world, not only Nigeria, and now we have started."</p> <p>Nigerian authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Local newspaper ThisDay quoted Major-General Chris Olukolade as saying the claim Boko Haram controls Gwoza was "false and empty."</p> <p>The video includes footage of the attack on Gwoza, which appears to show hundreds of jihadists mounting what is alleged to be an attack on Gwoza, backed by armored personal carriers and pick-up trucks with mounted machine guns.</p> <p>They unload salvos of gunfire all over the town from trucks and on foot. The fighters are all armed with AK-47s or rocket propelled grenades, some in military uniform, others in civilian clothes. Many of them walk casually as they take over the town.</p> <p>They also fire into the hills at what appear to be fleeing security forces and civilians, and they help themselves to weapons and ammunition seized from security forces. It ends with scenes of executing captives in pre-dug mass graves, some of them beaten to death with spades.</p> <p>Ever since Sunni jihadists in <a href="">Syria</a> and <a href="">Iraq</a> declared the area they control "Islamic state" in June, the appeal of making territorial claims by Islamist groups has been enhanced.</p> <p>Police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu said on Sunday that 35 policemen were missing after an attack on a mobile police training camp in Gwoza.</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Isaac Abrak; Writing by Tim Cocks; editing by Ralph Boulton)</p> Need to Know Nigeria Mon, 25 Aug 2014 20:34:42 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6240432 at Everyone from Tibetan monks to Iran's Supreme Leader is watching Ferguson. Here's how they're reacting <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The killing of Michael Brown matters to folks around the globe. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Emily Lodish </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>We know recent events in Ferguson, Missouri resonate with the rest of the world.</p> <p>We have proof. Check out this <a href="" target="_blank">time-lapse map</a> that shows how quickly tweets mentioning Ferguson spread around the globe. (Full map at the bottom.)</p> <p>The question, then, isn&#39;t whether people outside America are paying attention to the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown and its aftermath. The question is, what do they think about it? What has the world learned about the United States from what&#39;s been happening in Ferguson?</p> <p>That&#39;s a deeper query, and counting tweets won&#39;t answer it. So let&#39;s take a closer look at how people in other countries have reacted so far.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Hands across the internet</strong></p> <p>The tweets that spread like wildfire around the globe weren&#39;t just disseminating news. Some of those tweets consisted of folks in other crisis-ridden countries trying to help their counterparts in Ferguson cope.</p> <p>A&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Telegraph</a> article, which Zach Goldhammer cited in the <a href="" target="_blank">Atlantic</a>, chronicled Palestinian tweets aimed at Ferguson, offering advice on how to handle tear gas.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Always make sure to run against the wind /to keep calm when you&#39;re teargassed, the pain will pass, don&#39;t rub your eyes! <a href="">#Ferguson</a> Solidarity</p> <p> &mdash; مريم البرغوثي (@MariamBarghouti) <a href="">August 14, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Don&#39;t Keep much distance from the Police, if you&#39;re close to them they can&#39;t tear Gas. To <a href="">#Ferguson</a> from <a href="">#Palestine</a></p> <p> &mdash; Rajai abuKhalilرجائي (@Rajaiabukhalil) <a href="">August 14, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Why would someone in Gaza care about protesters in Ferguson? One argument is that the resurgence of popular uprisings around the world &mdash; the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring, for example &mdash; has created a kind of global protest culture, one that unites people against oppression across nations. As&nbsp;Goldhammer puts it, there&#39;s now a &quot;certain transnational homogeneity to scenes of riot police clashing with demonstrators.&quot;</p> <p>Or, as you might say, &quot;<a href="">tear gas unites us all</a>.&quot;<br /> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Around the world in Buddhist robes</strong></p> <p>The internet is great for connecting people in faraway places, but some people saw what was happening in Ferguson and decided to hop on an airplane.</p> <p>Some, like the Tibetan monks who came all the way from India, traveled great distances to take part in the demonstrations in a St. Louis suburb.&nbsp;</p> <p>The&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Huffington Post</a> collated some great pictures of the monks interacting with folks in Missouri.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>These men have come to <a href="">#Ferguson</a>, MO all the way from India, where they live in exile, to bring a message of PEACE.✌️ <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) <a href="">August 17, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Finger waggin&#39;</strong></p> <p>The gestures of compassionate individuals aside, several countries have barely been able to conceal their delight to see the US struggling over human rights.</p> <p>An editorial in <a href="">China&#39;s state-run Xinhua</a> media outlet ended with the pithy:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><p><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 20px;">&quot;Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others.&quot;</span></p> </blockquote> <p>Iran&#39;s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei <a href="" target="_blank">let loose on Twitter</a>, criticizing the US for its human rights hypocrisy.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Based on global statistics,US govt is the biggest violator of <a href="">#HumanRights</a>. Besides int&rsquo;l crimes,it commits crimes against its ppl.<a href="">#Ferguson</a></p> <p> &mdash; (@khamenei_ir) <a href="">August 17, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Germany was quick to say <a href="" target="_blank">nothing of the sort could happen</a> at home, and Russia &mdash; well. &quot;Ferguson has been a gift to Russia&rsquo;s propagandists,&quot; writes <a href="" target="_blank">Max Seddon in Buzzfeed</a>. They&#39;re all over it.</p> <p>Even&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Amnesty International</a> put its seal of disapproval on the situation, sending a 13-person delegation to Ferguson &mdash; the first time they had ever sent observers to a community inside the US that was in mid-crisis.</p> <p>&quot;Amnesty saw a human rights crisis in Ferguson and it&#39;s a human rights crisis that is escalating,&quot; said Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.</p> <p>So, what has the world learned about America from Ferguson?</p> <p>Well, for starters it has learned that the US is a deeply flawed nation in need of as much oversight as anyone else.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="520" mozallowfullscreen="" msallowfullscreen="" oallowfullscreen="" src="" style="font-size: 13px;" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></p> Conflict Zones Want to Know Asia-Pacific Politics Culture & Lifestyle Israel and Palestine United States Mon, 25 Aug 2014 20:25:00 +0000 Emily Lodish 6238969 at Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signs decree to dissolve parliament <!--paging_filter--><p>Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree on Monday to dissolve parliament, he said on a Twitter post, paving the way for a new election.</p> <p>&quot;I have decided to prematurely end the authority of parliament,&quot; he wrote.</p> <p>Under the law, the election must be held within 60 days of the decree being published, which could mean an election being held at the end of October.</p> <p>Ukraine will hold a parliamentary election on Oct. 26 following the dissolution of the current assembly by President Petro Poroshenko, his spokesman said on Monday.</p> <p>&quot;The next election is on Oct. 26,&quot; Sviatoslav Tseholko said on a Twitter post.</p> Need to Know Europe Mon, 25 Aug 2014 19:36:31 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6240369 at Gaza gravediggers unwittingly dig their own graves <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The Israeli military has targeted both major burial grounds in Gaza a collective six times over the last week. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ashley Gallagher </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>GAZA CITY — Cemeteries are becoming the most dangerous places in Gaza.</p> <p>The Israeli military has targeted both of Gaza’s primary burial grounds on six occasions over the past week, alleging that they'd received intelligence that rockets were being launched from the areas.</p> <p>On Saturday, local residents say the cemetery north of Gaza City was targeted, though no injuries were reported.</p> <p>On Thursday, four people were killed at the Shekh Radwan Cemetery in the middle of the city around 10 a.m. At least two of the victims were gravediggers who were preparing graves for people killed the night before during Israeli air strikes.</p> <p>One of those victims was Awsam Ta’Fesh, 43, who had been working as a gravedigger for five years at Shekh Radwan. His wife An'am said he had been regularly digging graves for victims of the most recent violence between <a href="">Israel</a> and Hamas.</p> <p>Ta'Fesh was buried in the very grave he had been preparing for another man.</p> <p>More than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed in the most recent <a href="">fighting between Israel and Hamas</a>, which is now in its seventh week. Most victims have been civilians. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians in Israel have been killed.</p> <p>Ta'Fesh's wife An'am said she heard an explosion Thursday, as her home is near the cemetery. She rushed outside to ask neighbors what happened and learned her husband had been hit. “He was just digging graves. Before the siege, he was a builder,” she said. </p> <p>But when jobs became scarce, digging graves suddenly became more attractive. The cost to bury a family member is about $200.</p> <p>An’am said her husband, when he did have time off, spent most of it with their four children.</p> <p>Ta’Fesh’s father said he was listening to the radio when he learned of his son's death. “May he rest in peace, I release him to God,” he said. </p> <p>Meanwhile, the family of 23-year-old Salem Abu Ghadayen mourned their own loss.</p> <p>Ghadayen didn't normally dig graves but would often help Ta’Fesh for some extra money. When two of Ghadayen's friends were killed in Gaza blasts, he went to the graveyard to help prepare for their burial.</p> <p>His sister, Entesar Abu Ghadayen, said her brother was a good kid, "popular and loved by everyone.” She said an Israeli drone targeted them without reason.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 12.727272033691406px;">Salem's brother </span>Fadel Abu Ghadayen says he was at the cemetery when the explosion happened. He rushed over to his brother, who had been hit, calling out for help.</p> <p>"He was badly injured and I started to ask for help. I tried to pull him out of the cemetery. When a second missile targeted another man, I went out into street to ask for help. It was 30 minutes before the ambulances came,” said Fadel.</p> <p>Salem Abu Ghadayen died two hours later during surgery at the local hospital.</p> <p>Ghadayen's father was distraught on Saturday, standing outside the family home, wiping tears from his eyes with weathered hands. He said his son would often drive the donkey carts stocked with produce to sell in the community and would do odd jobs. He was well liked. “God gives and God takes away,” he said, adding that he hopes for peace “for all Muslims.”</p> <p>Salem's sister Entesar was more impassioned. She said she hoped <a href="">Egypt</a> and Israel go to war so they would know how the Palestinians feel. She said both had the power to help them but did not. “What weapons do we have?,” she asked, “We don’t have nuclear weapons.”</p> <p>Entesar said her family is now staying at a friend's because their home is too close to the cemetery and they fear for their lives. </p> <p>At the cemetery in northern Gaza on Saturday, children crowded around a hole in the ground. They said that's where the Israeli bomb hit. It came from an F16 aircraft, they said. Trash and glass were strewn about. </p> <p>The Israeli military said they received intelligence last week that “rockets were being launched” from Shekh Radwan Cemetery, according to a spokesperson. They could not confirm the bombing on Saturday.</p> <p>Israeli military spokesperson Lt. Libby Weiss said the military attempts to warn residents of their activities in order “minimize strikes on civilian people.” Leaflets were dropped from the air on Saturday. Groups of people on the street picked up the fliers and were also seen dropping them in the street.</p> <p>The flyer was written in Arabic and warned Palestinians “any military building or civilian building that is involved in terrorism operations against Israel” would be targeted. It asked residents to leave their homes. The military spokesperson said they hope to “shed light” on what they are doing and prevent further casualties.</p> <p>Since the blasts, the cemeteries have been eerily quiet.</p> <p>Palestinians normally investigate a site after a bombing, but now everyone is too frightened to enter the cemetery, where blasts can be louder than in other parts of the city.</p> <p>Funerals over the last few days have been scarce. Even the gravediggers are wary.</p> Need to Know World Leaders Conflict Zones Military Aid Culture & Lifestyle Israel and Palestine Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:16:00 +0000 Ashley Gallagher 6239622 at Britain’s foreign fighters aren’t just in Syria <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The UK’s stance on Brits battling overseas depends on who they’re fighting for. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Corinne Purtill </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>LONDON, <a href="">UK</a> — As UK special forces seek the British Islamic State militant suspected of murdering US journalist James Foley, the government is redoubling efforts to stop Brits from going to <a href="">Syria</a> and to prosecute those who return.</p> <p>Government advisers have called for the return of “control orders,” controversial Blair-era legislation that allows terror suspects to be electronically tagged and placed under house arrest.</p> <p>Home Secretary Theresa May has publicly reiterated her office’s ability to strip certain Brits abroad of their citizenship.</p> <p>London Mayor Boris Johnson, often discussed as a future Conservative party leader, on Monday suggested a law that would assume anyone visiting a war zone without first notifying authorities is doing so for terrorist purposes.</p> <p>About 500 British citizens are believed to have traveled to Syria to join the myriad militant groups fighting in that country’s civil war.</p> <p>But Syria is not the only overseas battleground where Brits have voluntarily taken up arms. Nor is the phenomenon of Brits joining conflicts abroad new. In the 1930s, thousands of Brits went to <a href="">Spain</a> to volunteer with the leftist republicans fighting General Francisco Franco's fascists.</p> <p> More recently, Brits have joined fights in Israel, Lebanon and Iraq.</p> <p>The dozens of British citizens currently fighting with the Israel Defense Forces have not encountered legal obstacles to their service. Neither did Brits who traveled to Libya in 2011 to join the rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi.</p> <p>The UK has no consistent policy on who can and can’t travel abroad to fight. Most volunteer soldiers travel to their destinations on commercial flights, making it difficult for authorities to gauge their motives on departure.</p> <p>Instead, decisions on whether to pursue charges when they return home are made on a “case by case basis,” a Home Office spokeswoman said.</p> <p>The experiences of British volunteers in Israel and Libya show how differently UK law treats foreign fighters, depending on whom they’re fighting with.</p> <p>The IDF allows non-Israeli Jewish men under 24 and women under 21 with at least one Jewish grandparent to enlist. A support group for families of British IDF enlistees called Mahal Mums has its own Facebook page.</p> <p>In July, the IDF told UK’s Channel 4 that there were about 100 British citizens currently serving in their ranks. An IDF spokeswoman was unable to provide an updated number on Monday.</p> <p>"I believe that it is important to take responsibility and defend my country like the majority of the rest of the society has done there,” IDF enlistee Darren Cohen, 23, told the Huffington Post UK. The King’s College London graduate has family in Israel and is planning to immigrate there.</p> <p>UK law makes exceptions for people joining another country’s official army, a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.</p> <p>“If the military of any country operate outside of the law, they [Britons fighting abroad] can of course be investigated appropriately, but that would generally be for war crimes or domestic criminal offenses,” the office said.</p> <p>In 2011, dozens of UK nationals — more than 100, by the estimate of the London-based advocacy group <a href="" target="_blank">Cage</a> — went to Libya to join the rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi. Most were Muslims of Libyan descent.</p> <p>Many had previously been on the UK’s terror watchlist as members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which then-Prime Minister Tony Blair had banned as a terror organization in 2005. Shortly after UN sanctions against Libya ended in 2003, Gaddafi pledged to dismantle the country’s weapons program, and Western companies were granted access to Libya’s oil in 2004.</p> <p>But by the time of Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011, the UK was supporting the rebels. Brits wishing to fight with them met no resistance upon leaving the UK, or legal problems when they returned.</p> <p>“I explained that I had been out there working to remove Qaddafi and stop him oppressing our people,” a Brit stopped at Heathrow Airport <a href="" target="_blank">told Cage</a>.</p> <p> “They [security officials] seemed to be happy with this response and permitted me to return to my home. This was near the end of 2011 and I have never been hassled since, despite having returned to Libya on many occasions.”</p> <p>Days after Foley’s murder, Home Secretary May said that any British citizen returning from Syria or Iraq would be investigated and could face prosecution for terror offenses. Sixty-nine people have been arrested on such charges this year, compared to 24 in all of 2013. </p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Why is the Islamic State still so strong?</a></strong></p> <p>In May, Portsmouth man Mashudur Choudhury, 31, became the first Briton convicted on terror charges related to his trip to Syria.</p> <p> As scrutiny of those returning from Syria intensified in the last year, some have argued that security measures should apply to all Brits volunteering for foreign conflicts. </p> <p> “If we’re talking about stopping people, Muslims, stopping them from going over to other countries and fighting, why are we not doing that as a blanket for stopping anyone that goes over abroad to fight in other countries?” said Farooq Siddiqui, a former manager for Prevent, the UK government’s anti-radicalization program, on a news talk show in July.</p> <p>Britons fighting abroad weren’t considered a big problem in the years before Islamic terrorism threatened domestic security in the UK.</p> <p>“At first it was, ‘Who cares?’” said Royal United Services Institute research fellow Raffaello Pantucci, summing up authorities’ attitudes toward self-styled soldiers fighting abroad.</p> <p> That changed after 2004’s Operation Crevice, which intercepted an Al Qaeda-backed terror plot in the UK, and the London public transit bombings of 2005.</p> <p> Both involved Brits who had traveled abroad for training. That fact drove home for authorities that experiences and connections made abroad could have serious security implications back in the UK.</p> <p>Security officials have been worried about this in Syria since early in the conflict. Returning British fighters could be foot soldiers in a terror network, or they could be lone rogues determined to carry out their own crimes — a much more difficult threat to stop.</p> <p> “From a security service perspective, a network is easier to penetrate. They communicate with each other, and if they’re communicating, you can listen in,” Pantucci said.</p> <p> “But if you’ve got individuals who are basically going out there and fighting, and coming back and deciding they want to do something without telling anyone what they’re doing, how are you going to stop that?”</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Foley execution boosts European support for intervention in Iraq</a></strong></p> Need to Know terrorism War United Kingdom Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:27:00 +0000 Corinne Purtill 6240235 at Kyiv accuses Russian forces of opening a new front in separatist war in eastern Ukraine <!--paging_filter--><p>A Ukrainian military spokesman said on Monday that Russian forces "in the guise of" separatist rebels had crossed into south-east Ukraine with ten tanks and two armored infantry vehicles, aiming to open a new front in the separatist war.</p> <p>"This morning there was an attempt by the Russian military in the guise of Donbass fighters to open a new area of military confrontation in the southern Donetsk region," spokesman Andriy Lysenko told journalists.</p> <p>Earlier, a separate military statement said Ukrainian border guards had engaged an armored column near the town of Novoazovsk on the Azov Sea in south-east Ukraine.</p> <p>Meanwhile, <a href="">Russia</a> wants to send a second humanitarian aid convoy to eastern Ukraine in the near future, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday after Kyiv and the West criticized Moscow for sending the first cargo without official permission.</p> <p>"The humanitarian situation is not improving but deteriorating," Lavrov told a news conference. "We want to reach an agreement on all conditions for delivering a second convoy by the same route... in the coming days."</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">So much for the Russian &lsquo;invasion&rsquo;?</a></strong></p> <p>Lavrov also said damage to civilian infrastructure in east Ukraine, where Kiev is fighting a pro-Russian rebellion, cannot all be put down to errors or chance.</p> Need to Know Europe Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:36:00 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6240202 at Egypt presses on with truce efforts in deadly and relentless Israel-Gaza war <!--paging_filter--><p>Israeli air strikes killed at least five Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and militants kept up their rocket fire on southern <a href="">Israel</a> on Monday, witnesses and officials said, as <a href="">Egypt</a> pressed on with efforts to broker a durable truce.</p> <p>Gazans said they received new recorded messages on mobile phones and landlines saying Israel would target any house used to launch "terror attacks" and telling civilians to leave areas used my militants.</p> <p>Israeli aircraft attacked four homes in the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, near the Israeli border, killing two women and a girl, witnesses and health officials said.</p> <p>Locals told Reuters a member of the Hamas militant group that dominates Gaza lived in one of the dwellings. Separate attacks elsewhere in the Gaza Strip killed two other Palestinians, said officials.</p> <p>Militants launched about 40 rockets at southern Israel on Monday, causing no casualties, the army said.</p> <p>Palestinian health officials say 2,119 people, most of them civilians including more than 400 children, have been killed in Gaza since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending rocket fire into its territory.</p> <p>Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians in Israel have been killed.</p> <p>Gazans said they had received messages on their phones for several days, with a new recording on Monday ending with the words: "To Hamas leaders and to the residents of Gaza: The battle is open and you have been warned."</p> <p><strong>Indefinite ceasefire proposed      </strong></p> <p>Qais Abu Leila, a senior Palestinian official involved in Egyptian-mediated talks to reach a truce in seven weeks of fighting, said Cairo had proposed an indefinite ceasefire.</p> <p>Cairo's latest initiative calls for the immediate opening of Gaza's crossings with Israel and Egypt to aid reconstruction efforts in the battered coastal strip to be followed by talks on a longer-term easing of the blockade.</p> <p>"Egyptian efforts are continuing. The ball is in the Israeli court, and they have not responded to this proposal 36 hours after it was referred to them," Abu Leila told Reuters.</p> <p>Hamas has said it will not stop fighting until the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the enclave of 1.8 million people is lifted.</p> <p>Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are demanding guarantees that weapons will not enter the economically-crippled territory. Israel recalled its negotiators from Cairo on Tuesday after a ceasefire collapsed.</p> <p>In Gaza City on Sunday, an Israeli strike on a car killed Mohammed al-Ghoul, described by the Israeli military as a Hamas official responsible for "terror fund transactions." US dollars were found in the wrecked vehicle, witnesses said.</p> <p>Israel later bombed and destroyed Ghoul's house. He was targeted three days after Israel assassinated three top Hamas commanders in the southern Gaza Strip.</p> <p>Thousands of homes in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or damaged in the conflict. Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced in the territory where Palestinians, citing Israeli attacks that have hit schools and mosques, say no place is safe.</p> <p>Israel has said Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties because it operates among non-combatants. The group, it said, uses schools and mosques to store weapons and as launching sites for cross-border rocket attacks.</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Noah Browning in Ramallah; Writing by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Andrew Heavens)</p> Need to Know Israel and Palestine Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:59:39 +0000 Nidal al-Mughrabim, Thomson Reuters 6240092 at Political strife grips France as prime minister hands in his government's resignation <!--paging_filter--><p>French President Francois Hollande asked his prime minister on Monday to form a new government, looking to impose his will on the cabinet after rebel leftist ministers had called for an economic policy U-turn.</p> <p>The surprise move came the day after outspoken Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg had condemned what he called fiscal "austerity" and attacked euro zone powerhouse <a href="">Germany</a>'s "obsession" with budgetary rigor.</p> <p>In a terse statement, Hollande's office said Prime Minister Manuel Valls had handed in his government's resignation, opening the way for a reshuffle just four months after it took office.</p> <p>"The head of state asked him to form a team that supports the objectives he has set out for the country," the statement said, suggesting Valls would continue trying to revive the euro zone's second largest economy with tax cuts for businesses while slowly reining in its public deficit by trimming spending.</p> <p><a href="">France</a> has lagged other euro zone economies in emerging from a recent slowdown, fuelling frustration over Hollande's leadership, both within his Socialist party and further afield.</p> <p>The new cabinet will be announced on Tuesday and there was no immediate word on who would stay and who would go.</p> <p>If Hollande decided to sack Montebourg, who is viewed as a potential presidential rival, he would risk seeing the ousted minister take with him a band of rebel lawmakers and deprive him of the parliamentary majority he needs to push through reforms.</p> <p>Opposition conservatives, who for weeks have been embroiled in their own leadership rows, called for an outright dissolution of parliament, as did the far-right National Front.</p> <p>"With half of the presidential mandate already gone, it doesn't bode well for the ability of the president, or whatever government he chooses, to take key decisions," said former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, one of handful of hopefuls for the conservative ticket in the 2017 presidential election.</p> <p><strong>'Alternative motor'</strong></p> <p>A new survey released at the weekend showed Hollande's poll ratings stuck at 17 percent, the lowest for any leader of France since its Fifth Republic was formed in 1958. Valls, a once-popular interior minister, saw his own popularity eroded by his failure to tackle unemployment, which is stuck above 10 percent.</p> <p>Despite being promoted within the cabinet to economy minister, Montebourg has emerged as the most visible leader of the left since Hollande in January adopted a more pro-business line to try and boost the economy with corporate tax breaks.</p> <p>Hollande has also sought to repair ties with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives that have been strained by France's repeated failures to meet budgetary targets agreed with the <a href="">Brussels</a>-based <a href="">European</a> Commission.</p> <p>Speaking at a meeting of Socialists in eastern France on Sunday, Montebourg said deficit-reduction measures carried out since the 2008 financial crisis had crippled euro zone economies and urged governments to change course swiftly or lose their voters to populist and extremist parties.</p> <p>"The time has come for us to take on an alternative leadership, to set up an alternative motor," he told the gathering, where Education Minister Benoit Hamon also took Hollande's policies to task.</p> <p>The irony of the timing of Montebourg's comments is that EU policymakers have in recent weeks acknowledged the bloc's rules on budget consolidation should be followed with flexibility, while France this month conceded that stagnant growth meant it would miss its 2014 budget target.</p> <p>Analysts said the showdown suggested the 51-year-old Montebourg — who this year forced General Electric to sweeten its offer for French industrial icon Alstrom's turbine business — was looking to disassociate himself from Hollande and rally the country's splintered left behind a rival presidential bid.</p> <p>"Montebourg's exit resonates like real ambition for 2017, that's clear. It's a real political coup," said Martial Foucault, director of the Cevipof think tank.</p> <p>Foucault forecast that the government to be named by Valls on Tuesday would be more centrist in tone but noted: "You need ministers who are capable of speaking with unions, employers and Germany and, I admit, there are not a lot of alternatives."</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Maya Nikolaeva and Julien Ponthus; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Crispian Balmer)</p> Need to Know France Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:37:31 +0000 John Irish and Alexandria Sage, Thomson Reuters 6240075 at In Georgia, echoes of Ukraine <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Charges against former President Mikheil Saakashvili are raising concerns in the West. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nicholas Clayton </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>ISTANBUL, <a href="">Turkey</a> — As armed conflict rages in Ukraine over that country’s Western orientation, Georgia has announced that the architect of its own pro-Western shift a decade ago is wanted on charges of abuse of office.</p> <p>Former President Mikheil Saakashvili has been feted in the West as a visionary reformer who enacted a wave of successful anti-corruption reforms and set the small post-Soviet state on a path to membership in the <a href="">European</a> Union and NATO.</p> <p>But since his party lost power in 2012, the new Georgian government has charged him and several former cabinet members and advisors with malfeasance, alleging that his government engaged in brutal authoritarian tactics and crony capitalism during its eight-year reign.</p> <p>Saakashvili, who is living abroad, has denied wrongdoing. His supporters criticize the charges against him as politically motivated.</p> <p>However, polls show the prosecutions are generally popular among the Georgian public, provoking concern in Western capitals.</p> <p>After the announcement of the charges against Saakashvili last week, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt <a href="">tweeted</a> that by charging Saakashvili, the new authorities “deviate from [the] European path in using [the] justice system for revenge” and “damage” the country.</p> <p>Four US senators also released a statement saying they were “extremely disappointed and concerned” with the charges, saying that they impose “unnecessary challenges in moving our relationship forward.”</p> <p>The wide range of reactions to the charges mirror the polarizing nature of Saakashvili’s legacy in the former Soviet Union.</p> <p>Koba Turmanidze, president of pollster CRRC Georgia, says that although Saakashvili’s allies have “exaggerated” the effectiveness of his reforms, he did succeed in turning Georgia into a functioning state after more than a decade of internal conflict, stagnation and misrule.</p> <p>That made Georgia an outlier in the South Caucasus region, a neighborhood that continues to struggle with single-party governments and entrenched, corrupt elites, Turmanidze adds.</p> <p>Next door in Armenia, many look at Saakashvili’s accomplishments with admiration and met the news of his prosecution “suspicion,” says Stepan Grigoryan, chairman of the Yerevan-based Analytical Center on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation.</p> <p>While Georgia was tied for 124th out of 133 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2003, it soared to 55th place by 2013. During the same period, Armenia dropped from 77th to 94th.</p> <p>“Armenians know the success story of fighting corruption in Georgia, including the police, but that does not happen in Armenia,” Grigoryan says. “This is the main reason why you can’t persuade people that Saakashvili was corrupt or that he did things which were not in the best interest of the Georgian nation.”</p> <p>Saakashvili isn’t without critics elsewhere in the region, <a href="">Russia</a> chief among them. After he took power in 2004 with the stated goal of pursuing Euro-Atlantic integration, relations with the Kremlin quickly soured.</p> <p>Following an espionage dispute in 2006, Russia banned Georgian goods and fought a brief war in 2008 over Georgia’s pro-Moscow breakaway region South Ossetia. After Russia temporarily invaded parts of Georgia, some of the Kremlin’s allies recognized South Ossetia and another Georgian separatist region, Abkhazia, as independent.</p> <p>Many say they see echoes of Georgia’s struggle with Russia in the current standoff between the West and Russia over Ukraine.</p> <p>Dmitri Trenin, director of the Moscow Carnegie Center, says Russians still largely see Saakashvili as “anti-Russian, pro-American, and basically a fraud domestically.” He says most believe Saakashvili used cosmetic reforms to fool the West into giving Georgia generous political and financial support while he ruled the country as a ruthless autocrat.</p> <p>Lincoln Mitchell, who has authored two books on Saakashvili’s regime and worked as an informal advisor to his chief opponent in the 2012 parliamentary elections, says some of those criticisms are valid.</p> <p>In particular, the abuse of power charges leveled against Saakashvili stem from a political crisis in November 2007, when peaceful opposition protests were violently <a href="">dispersed</a> and an opposition TV station was shut down at gunpoint as riot police stormed its studios.</p> <p>The channel, Imedi TV, was owned by Saakashvili’s rival in those elections, and had been the most prominent source of dissent in Georgia’s media landscape. Shortly after the channel was shut down by force, it was reopened under government management and operated with coverage that was notably favorable toward Saakashvili’s party.</p> <p>Since a political coalition called the Georgian Dream defeated Saakashvili’s party in the 2012 elections, Georgia’s courts have been flooded with thousands of claims of abuse and unfair expropriation of property under the previous regime. Many believe the election’s outcome was heavily influenced by leaked videos showing inmates being tortured in state prisons.</p> <p>Although many of the claims lack sufficient evidence, Mitchell says the current leadership has a popular mandate to investigate wrongdoing, and also an imperative to break the culture of unaccountability at the top.</p> <p>However, going after Saakashvili personally means “rubbing the West’s nose” in the sensitive affair shortly after Georgia signed an EU Association Agreement in June, Mitchell said.</p> <p>Turmanidze says the greater issue for Georgia isn’t whether wrongdoing was committed, but whether a “weak democracy” can resist creating a precedent for perpetually investigating political rivals.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">Here's some of James Foley's finest reporting for GlobalPost</a></strong></p> <p>“It’s a serious dilemma because every government that defeats another will find something that is not exactly right compared to the laws, which are not the best laws in the first place,” he says.</p> <p>Regardless of the outcome in the court process against Saakashvili, Mitchell says his legacy in the region will be one of both teachable examples and pitfalls to avoid.</p> <p>“If we look at Ukraine, part of the problem is that no one [there] ever did what Saakashvili did,” he says. “He built and maintained a pro-West consensus and sent a message that Georgia could be different.”</p> South Caucasus World Leaders Want to Know Europe Mon, 25 Aug 2014 06:01:12 +0000 Nicholas Clayton 6237758 at China is increasingly arresting celebrities for drug use <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The latest is actor Jackie Chan’s son, allegedly busted with more than 3.5 ounces of pot. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Robert Foyle Hunwick </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BEIJING, China &mdash; In the past, stars like Jackie Chan would be featured in cheesy 80s-style &ldquo;Just Say No&rdquo; videos. But now Beijing is co-opting celebrities into their latest anti-drug campaign, whether they like it or not.</p> <p>This week saw Jaycee Chan, son of &quot;Rush Hour&quot; actor Jackie, become the latest &ldquo;celebrity&rdquo; <a href="" target="_blank">paraded on TV screens</a>, after police raided his house in Beijing&rsquo;s Dongcheng district following a supposed tip-off. They arrested several men.</p> <p>More than 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of marijuana was found in a safe in the home of Jaycee, who now faces the serious charge of &ldquo;accommodating drug users,&rdquo; which carries a three-year penalty, after admitting to having smoked since 2006.</p> <p>In response, both Chans have gone on the offensive: <a href="" target="_blank">Jackie has flown to Beijing</a> to assist with his son&rsquo;s case, his publicist confirmed, and publicly tweeted an apology, saying, &ldquo;I feel very angry and very shocked. As a public figure, I&rsquo;m very ashamed.&rdquo; Meanwhile, in a bid to reduce his sentence, Jaycee has offered up the names of up to 120 fellow celebrity drugs users, Taiwanese newspaper <a href="" target="_blank">Liberty Times reported</a>.</p> <p>Chan, the star of numerous flop films like &quot;Double Trouble&quot; (which garnered a UK box office of just under $10,000, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the Telegraph</a>), remains best known for his father &mdash; unlike his smoking partner, Taiwanese actor Ko Chen-tung, aka Kai Ko, whose hits include &quot;You Are The Apple of My Eye.&quot; Ko, like Chan, also tested positive but will be detained on the lesser charge of marijuana use for up to 30 days.</p> <p>The case has come under more public scrutiny than usual because of its uneasy mixture of celebrity glamour, the vagaries of fame in China, and the Party&rsquo;s declaration of a zero-tolerance &ldquo;people&rsquo;s war&rdquo; on drugs, in which the most talked-about casualties are prominent public figures.</p> <p>These include recent meth arrests for &quot;If You Are The One&quot; guest <a href="" target="_blank">Chen Wan-ning</a>, 39, Mama director Zhang Yuan, reality star Li Daimo and &quot;The Bullet Vanishes&quot; actor <a href="" target="_blank">Gao Hu</a>.</p> <p>In each case, state media has dutifully reported the apparent incredulity of fans, detailed the accused&rsquo;s penitence and pointed the finger at an <a href="" target="_blank">&ldquo;avant garde&rdquo; lifestyle</a>, which &ldquo;can breed spiritual emptiness, which makes them susceptible to temptations&rdquo; as China Daily noted. The implication is that such celebrities are outliers, and their misbehavior an aberration in society to be made an example of.</p> <p>But the public is proving increasingly cynical of such narratives &mdash; and not just the stars&rsquo; relentless crocodile tears, but the entire tone of this campaign.</p> <p>The use of televised confessions, which has re-emerged as a feature of modern Chinese policing since the arrest of internet celebrity Charles Xue for solicitation, and continued with high-profile cases against the likes of GSK investigator Peter Humphrey and alleged high-class hooker Guo Meimei, has come under particular fire.</p> <p>The video, with faces pixelated, showed the bust seemingly in action (&ldquo;Who gave you this?&rdquo; the police ask. Jaycee replies, &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had it for a long time.&rdquo; &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a lot of marijuana,&rdquo; an officer observes). The footage of Ko was a &ldquo;vio-lation of human rights&rdquo; said Chiu Hsien-chih, a former president of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, and opposition politicians in Taiwan have expressed concern about the judicial process.</p> <p>Yu Guoming, a journalism professor at China&rsquo;s Renmin University, said such confessions should only be &ldquo;after a verdict has been delivered&rdquo; (although with a 99.8 percent conviction rate, an arrest in China is tantamount to the same).</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s against the law,&rdquo; Zhang Ming, a politics professor at the same university, <a href="" target="_blank">argued on Weibo</a>. &ldquo;Even if it&rsquo;s a star I really don&rsquo;t like &hellip; it&rsquo;s no different from public shaming.&rdquo;</p> <p>The police have been forced to deny the existence of a special unit targeting celebrities for PR takedowns, while speculation has been rife as to motive &mdash; particularly as Chan Sr. was not only made a goodwill ambassador for the National Narcotics Control Commission in 2009, but is a member of the Chinese People&rsquo;s Political Consultative Conference (which advises the National Political Congress, commonly referred to as China&rsquo;s &ldquo;rubber stamp parlia-ment&rdquo;) and has been a controversial advocate of authoritarian rule on the mainland.</p> <p>It makes political sense to &ldquo;go after the conspicuously wealthy&rdquo; as a sop to China&rsquo;s increasingly disenfranchised, non-wealthy majority, the <a href="" target="_blank">American Interest concluded</a>, adding that the arrests were further evidence of President Xi Jinping &ldquo;consolidating power&hellip; by thinning out the top ranks.&rdquo;</p> <p>But this seems rather stodgy (and Jaycee Chan is hardly anyone&rsquo;s political op-ponent).</p> <p>The most credible explanation might be one offered Friday in Securities Daily newspaper <a href="" target="_blank">by entertainment venture capitalist Cao Haitiao</a>. Mergers and acquisitions in the sector have become increasingly cutthroat, meaning companies &ldquo;may be weeded out through competitive selection.&rdquo; Ko, who runs a production company, has lost endorsements and was due to appear in the Tiny Times 4, a lucrative Chinese franchise.</p> <p>Competing companies can attempt to nobble each other with rumors and anonymous tip-offs (this week, a bemused-looking Sohu CEO Charles Zhang&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">refuted claims</a> that he, too, had been detained for drugs). And who led the cops to Jaycee and Ko&rsquo;s private house party? Police say it was an anonymous tip-off.</p> Entertainment Want to Know China Culture & Lifestyle Mon, 25 Aug 2014 06:01:00 +0000 Robert Foyle Hunwick 6239667 at British homing in on Foley's killer <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The Sunday Times said that intelligence services have identified the fighter suspected of killing journalist James Foley but have yet to divulge the suspect's name. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Agence France-Presse </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="">British</a> authorities are "close" to identifying the hooded Islamic State jihadist who beheaded American journalist James Foley, the British ambassador to the <a href="">United States</a> said Sunday.</p> <p>"I can't say more than this but I know from my colleagues at home that we are close," said Amb. Peter Westmacott.</p> <p>The Sunday Times newspaper, citing unnamed senior government sources, reported that intelligence services MI5 and MI6 have identified the fighter suspected of killing Foley but the sources did not divulge the suspect's name.</p> <p>The jihadist, who was shown on video executing Foley and then threatening to kill a second US hostage if President Barack Obama did not change course in <a href="">Iraq</a>, spoke English with a British accent.</p> <p>"We're putting a lot into it and there are sophisticated technologies, voice identification and so on which people can use to check who these people are," Westmacott said.</p> <p>He said as many as 500 British subjects have gone to <a href="">Syria</a> and Iraq to fight for the jihadist movement.</p> <p>British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in an article published by the Times of London that Foley's killing was an "utter betrayal of our country."</p> <p>"It is horrifying to think that the perpetrator of this heinous act could have been brought up in Britain," Hammond wrote.</p> Need to Know Conflict Zones Syria Diplomacy Military Political Risk United States Sun, 24 Aug 2014 23:38:20 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6239582 at After 2 years, US hostage Theo Curtis freed in Syria <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The news comes days after video surfaced of fellow American journalist and hostage James Foley being executed by the Islamic State. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Emily Lodish </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>A young American who has been held hostage for two years by an Islamic rebel group in <a href="">Syria</a> has been freed, according to top US officials and the UN.</p> <p>Peter Theo Curtis, 45, from Boston, was handed over to United Nations peacekeepers in the Golan Heights on Sunday, reports say. He had been abducted in Antakya, <a href="">Turkey</a>, where he had planned to enter Syria, in October 2012.</p> <blockquote><p>"Particularly after a week marked by unspeakable tragedy, we are all relieved and grateful knowing that Theo Curtis is coming home after so much time held in the clutches of Jabhat Al-Nusrah," <a href="" target="_blank">John Kerry said in his statement</a>.</p> </blockquote> <p>The news of Curtis' release comes less than a week after a video surfaced showing the beheading of <a href="">captive US journalist James Foley</a> of GlobalPost by the Islamic State.</p> <p>Curtis was being held by Al Nusra, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, which was a rival of the more radical Islamic State, or ISIS.</p> <p>The United Nations said it facilitated the handover of Curtis in a statement on Sunday.</p> <blockquote><p>"He was handed over to UN peacekeepers in Al Rafid village, Quneitra, the Golan Heights, at 6:40 p.m. (local time) on 24 August 2014. After receiving a medical check-up, Mr. Curtis was handed over to representatives of his government," the <a href="" target="_blank">UN statement said</a>.</p> </blockquote> <p>His release is said to have been negotiated by Qatari officials, according to <a href="" target="_blank">Al Jazeera</a>.</p> <p>Nancy Curtis, the journalist's mother, told the <a href="" target="_blank">New York Times</a> that while she didn't have details, she had been told by Qatari negotiators that no ransom had been paid.</p> <blockquote><p>“We were repeatedly told by representatives of the Qatari government that they were mediating for Theo’s release on a humanitarian basis without the payment of money,” Mrs. Curtis said.</p> </blockquote> <p>The New York Times reports to have a video of Curtis, bound and disheveled, dated June 30. In the video, an armed man watches over Curtis as he begs for his life.</p> <p>“I have three days left. Three days — please do something,” Curtis is reported to say in the video.</p> <p>A second, very different video was released weeks later, according to the Times. Speaking from a script, Curtis says his captors have treated him well and says he “had everything” he needed. “Everything has been perfect — food, clothing, even friends,” he says in the footage. </p> <p>GlobalPost co-founder Philip S. Balboni said Curtis' captivity was one of the best kept secrets of the past two years of the Syrian conflict. "Very few people were aware that he was being held captive," Balboni said Sunday. </p> <p>We now know that the Islamic State has reporter Steven Sotloff, who was shown at the end of the video depicting Foley's beheading, as well as two other <a href="">Americans</a>.</p> <p>Additionally, reporter Austin Tice who had freelanced in Syria for the Washington Post and McClatchy News Service is believed to be held by the Assad regime in Damascus.</p> <p>Matthew Schrier, an American photojournalist who escaped in July 2013 from a house in Aleppo, Syria, where he was being held by Al Nusra did so by climbing up on the back of Curtis, his cellmate at the time, and out a window, according to the New York Times and GlobalPost's Balboni.</p> <p>Schrier related to GlobalPost in an interview at the time the pain he felt at having to leave Curtis behind who did not have the strength to pull himself through the window.</p> <p>“It is a great irony," Balboni said, “that Jim Foley’s final sacrifice may have been to give Theo Curtis his freedom."</p> <blockquote><p>"I am convinced that the leaders of Al Nusra looked at Jim and what IS did to him and the international outrage it provoked, and they decided that they would be far better off setting him free, rather than continuing to hold him and bring down the wrath of the US on them as well,” Balboni said.</p> </blockquote> Need to Know Conflict Zones Syria Diplomacy Military United States Sun, 24 Aug 2014 23:00:00 +0000 Emily Lodish 6239530 at China executes 8 for 'terror' attacks <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Three were executed for 'masterminding' a suicide car crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 2013. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Agence France-Presse </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="">China</a> has executed eight people for "terrorist attacks," including three it described as "masterminding" a suicide car crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 2013, state media announced.</p> <p>The official Xinhua news agency said early Sunday that the eight were involved in several cases connected to the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where Beijing says separatist militants are behind a string of attacks that have rocked China in recent months.</p> <p>Three of the condemned, named by Xinhua as Huseyin Guxur, Yusup Wherniyas and Yusup Ehmet, had been "deprived of political rights for life" at the time of being sentenced to death for their role in the assault in Tiananmen Square in October.</p> <p>"They masterminded the terrorist attack" at Tiananmen Square, Xinhua said.</p> <p>Two tourists were killed in the attack, in which a car rammed into bystanders on the iconic square in the heart of Beijing before bursting into flames.</p> <p>Three attackers also died in the incident Beijing blamed on Xinjiang separatists.</p> <p>Xinhua said five others were executed, including Rozi Eziz, who was convicted of an attack on police in Aksu in 2013.</p> <p>Abdusalam Elim was executed on charges of "organizing and leading a terrorist organization," Memet Tohtiyusup had "watched audio-visual materials on religious extremism" and "killed an innocent civilian" in 2013, and Abdumomin Imin was described as a "terrorist ringleader" who led Bilal Berdi in attacks on police in 2011 and 2013.</p> <p>Xinhua, which cited the Xinjiang region publicity department in its report, did not say when the executions were carried out.</p> <p>Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress exile group, in an email blasted the legal process surrounding the executions, calling it a "typical (case) of justice serving politics".</p> <p><strong>Crackdown on dissent</strong></p> <p>The sentences underscore the tough approach Beijing is taking to increasingly brazen and violent incidents.</p> <p>The Tiananmen attack was one of several that have rocked China since last year, and which Beijing has blamed on Xinjiang separatists.</p> <p>The far-western region is the resource-rich homeland of the Uighurs and other groups, and periodically sees ethnic tensions and discontent with the government burst into violence.</p> <p>In March, a horrific knife assault at a railway station in the city of Kunming in China's southern Yunnan province left 29 dead and 143 wounded.</p> <p>Two months later, 39 people were killed, along with four attackers, and more than 90 wounded when assailants threw explosives and ploughed two off-road vehicles through a crowd at a market in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi.</p> <p>Chinese courts, which are controlled by the ruling Communist Party and have a near-perfect conviction rate, frequently impose death sentences for terror offences.</p> <p>The executions and sentences are part of a crackdown that comes after Beijing vowed a year-long campaign against terrorism in the wake of the Urumqi market attack.</p> <p>In June, 13 people were executed for Xinjiang linked terrorist attacks.</p> <p>Beijing does not say how many people it executes each year. But independent estimates put the total at around 3,000 in 2012, a figure higher than all other countries combined.</p> <p>Exile groups say cultural oppression and intrusive security measures imposed by the Chinese government are the main causes of tension in Xinjiang, along with immigration by China's Han ethnic majority, which they say has led to decades of discrimination and economic inequality.</p> <p>Beijing, however, stresses ethnic harmony in the region and says the government has helped improve living standards and developed its economy.</p> Need to Know World Leaders Conflict Zones Diplomacy China Culture & Lifestyle Sun, 24 Aug 2014 13:37:17 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6239341 at Israeli airstrike takes down 13-story apartment building in Gaza <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> First, Israel warned residents to evacuate. Officials said 17 were wounded in the strike. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller, Thomson Reuters </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>GAZA/JERUSALEM — <a href="">Israel</a> launched more air strikes on Gaza on Sunday after taking its military campaign to a new level by flattening a 13-story apartment tower following a warning to residents to evacuate.</p> <p>Palestinian militants kept up their cross-border rocket fire in what has become a conflict of attrition that has defied attempts by regional power <a href="">Egypt</a> to broker a durable truce in fighting now in its seventh week.</p> <p>An Israeli air strike killed two people on a motorcycle in Gaza, medical officials said, hours after a bombing attack brought Al Zafer Tower in Gaza City crashing to the ground.</p> <p>It was the first time Israel had destroyed so large a structure in the Gaza war. It launched the attack a day after a mortar bomb killed a 4-year-old Israeli boy, and Israel's president attended his funeral on Sunday near the Gaza border.</p> <p>The Israeli military said the building contained a command center belonging to Hamas militants, and that it had fired a non-explosive warning rocket on Saturday, 10 minutes before attacking.</p> <p>Local residents said the high-rise housed 44 families. Medical officials said 17 people were wounded in the Israeli strike.</p> <p>Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt hostilities and return to talks. But there was no sign that negotiations, last held before a ceasefire collapsed on Tuesday, would resume any time soon.</p> <p>Israel also faced rocket fire from the north on Saturday.</p> <p>Two missiles launched from <a href="">Lebanon</a> struck Israel's Galilee. Lebanese and Israeli sources said it was not initially clear who was behind the attack, which caused no casualties or damage.</p> <p>At least five rockets fired from <a href="">Syria</a> landed at various locations on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the Israeli army said. All fell in open areas. It was also not immediately known who launched them.</p> <p><strong>Commercial center</strong></p> <p>Late on Saturday, an Israeli air strike destroyed a commercial center in the southern Gaza town of Rafah and three people were hurt, local medical staff said.</p> <p>Palestinian health officials say 2,085 people, most of them civilians and more than 400 of them children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending Palestinian rocket fire into its territory.</p> <p>Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians in Israel have been killed.</p> <p>Hamas has said it will not stop fighting until the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza is lifted. Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are reluctant to make sweeping concessions without guarantees weapons will not enter the economically crippled enclave.</p> <p>The Cairo talks had aimed to secure a lasting deal to open the way for reconstruction aid to flow into the Gaza territory of 1.8 million people, where thousands of homes have been destroyed.</p> <p>The United Nations says about 400,000 Gazans have been displaced in the longest and deadliest violence between Israel and the Palestinians since the second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, a decade ago.</p> <p><em>(Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell and Ori Lewis in Jerusalem and Sylvia Westall in Beirut; Writing by Jeffrey Heller; editing by Ralph Boulton)</em></p> Need to Know Conflict Zones Diplomacy Military Politics Israel and Palestine Political Risk Sun, 24 Aug 2014 12:57:59 +0000 Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller, Thomson Reuters 6239307 at 'Revenge attacks' in Iraq kill more than 20 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The bombings follow a Shia attack on a village mosque in Diyala Province on Friday in which 68 people died. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ahmed Rasheed and Alexander Dziadosz, Thomson Reuters </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BAGHDAD, <a href="">Iraq</a> — Two suicide bombers in Iraq killed at least 17 people in apparent revenge attacks after a major assault on a Sunni mosque heightened sectarian tensions.</p> <p>In Baghdad, a bomber rammed a vehicle into an intelligence headquarters on Saturday, killing at least eight people, police and medical sources said. Near Tikrit, a suicide bomber driving a military Humvee packed with explosives attacked a gathering of soldiers and Shia militias on Friday night, killing nine.</p> <p>Shia militiamen machinegunned 68 worshipers at a village mosque in Diyala Province on Friday as politicians try to form a power-sharing government capable of countering Islamic State militants.</p> <p>An advance by Islamic State through northern Iraq has alarmed the Baghdad government and its Western allies and drawn US airstrikes in Iraq for the first time since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011.</p> <p>Although the air campaign has caused a few setbacks for Islamic State, they do not address the far broader problem of sectarian warfare which the group has fueled with attacks on Shias.</p> <p>Bombings, kidnappings and execution-style shootings occur almost daily, echoing the dark days of 2006-2007, the peak of a sectarian civil war.</p> <p>The Islamic State routed Kurdish forces in its latest advance through the north.</p> <p>On Saturday, three bombings that appeared to be targeting Kurdish forces killed at least six people in the city of Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad, security sources said.</p> <p>Two of Iraq's most influential Sunni politicians suspended participation in talks on forming a new government after the militiamen carried out the mosque attack.</p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jibouri have pulled out of talks with the main Shia alliance until the results of an investigation into the killings are announced.</p> <p>Jibouri, a moderate Sunni, condemned both Islamic State as well as the Iranian-trained Shia ;militias who Sunnis say kidnap and kill members of their sect with impunity.</p> <p>"We will not allow them to exploit disturbed security in the country to undermine the political process. We believe the political process should move on," he told a news conference on Saturday.</p> <p>Iraq's new Shia prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, faces the daunting task of trying to draw Sunnis into politics after they were sidelined by his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki.</p> <p>Maliki stepped aside after pressure from Sunnis, Kurds, some fellow Shia, <a href="">Iran</a> and the <a href="">United States</a>.</p> <p>Iran, a regional power broker with deep influence in Iraq, is sending its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to Baghdad on Sunday for talks with Iraqi officials.</p> <p><em>(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Rosalind Russell)</em></p> Need to Know Conflict Zones Military Iraq Politics Political Risk Sat, 23 Aug 2014 17:47:00 +0000 Ahmed Rasheed and Alexander Dziadosz, Thomson Reuters 6238941 at So much for the Russian ‘invasion’? <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The feared Russian humanitarian convoy returned to Russia without much incident. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Dan Peleschuk </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>MOSCOW, <a href="">Russia</a> — A Russian humanitarian convoy that boosted tensions to unprecedented levels between Russia and Ukraine crossed uneventfully back into Russia on Saturday, having reportedly delivered its cargo to a war-torn rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine and neutralized fears it was a clandestine military invasion.</p> <p><a href="">Ukrainian officials had decried the convoy</a> of more than 220 trucks — which on Friday crossed a rebel-controlled border point without approval from Kyiv or the International Committee of the Red Cross — as a “direct invasion” of their country.</p> <p>Ukraine’s Western allies had likewise warned Moscow against unilaterally deploying the caravan of white tractor-trailers, suggesting the move was aimed at resupplying rebels and thereby infringed on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.</p> <p>But Saturday’s delivery to the besieged city of Luhansk — currently in the throws of what Moscow has cast as a “humanitarian crisis” amid heavy shelling — seemingly ended as quickly as it began, without any of the provocations critics feared would serve as a pretext for Russian military involvement.</p> <p>Russian state television reported that local rebels helped unload food, medical supplies and other goods. But Ukrainian officials say the contents of the convoy are still unknown to them.</p> <p>A spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council told reporters on Saturday that Ukrainian officials were not allowed to inspect the trucks on their way out, while also accusing cars belonging to the convoy of smuggling out goods from two Ukrainian factories that produce military hardware.</p> <p>But he offered no further information. Moscow, meanwhile, rushed to broadcast its “satisfaction” with the mission, even hailing the Red Cross —which said fighting on Friday was too heavy for the convoy to cross the border — as a “responsible partner.”</p> <p>“We were guided exclusively by the goal of helping needy civilians,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “We are receiving numerous messages of thanks from Luhansk residents for such a generous attitude on the part of Russia.”</p> <p>The apparent success of the mission may serve as a propaganda coup for the Kremlin, which some observers suggest has been looking for ways to back down from its standoff with the West while still offering token support for eastern Ukrainians to appease widespread nationalist sentiments at home.</p> <p>The convoy had been stalled near the border for nearly two weeks as negotiations dragged on with both Ukrainian authorities and the Red Cross.</p> <p>But having grown frustrated, Moscow defiantly deployed the trucks amid blanket state-run media coverage of the worsening humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine and a barrage of criticism from the West.</p> <p>In a separate statement on Saturday, the foreign ministry railed against what it portrayed as the “hysteria that broke out in a number of capitals” over the convoy, and rejected claims that it acted without Ukrainian approval.</p> <p>Adding to the showmanship was Dmitry Rogozin, a deputy prime minister and leading conservative hawk, who slammed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s criticism of the convoy by apparently suggesting the official was unmoved by the plight of Ukrainians under fire.</p> <p>"Ban Ki-moon is concerned that humanitarian convoy is heading to Lugansk," Rogozin wrote on Twitter Saturday. "I wonder why Ban isn't concerned that Lugansk hasn't seen this humanitarian convoy so far."</p> <p>Tensions remain high, with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh-Rasmussen having accused Russia on Friday of providing artillery support for rebels on both sides of the border.</p> <p>That charge was one of the most direct accusations yet of Moscow’s alleged role in the fighting, which erupted in April after suspiciously well-armed gunmen seized an array of administrative buildings across eastern Ukraine.</p> <p>The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected claims it’s supporting the rebels, even though the separatist leadership was until recently comprised of Muscovites with ties to Russia’s security and elite establishment.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the convoy drama represents a pattern of brinksmanship whose intensity appears to fluctuate, with tensions periodically rising and falling amid various pointed statements and attempts at diplomacy.</p> <p>For example, while Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko decried Russia’s deployment of the convoy on Friday, he also pledged his military would not retaliate for fear of aggravating the conflict.</p> <p>And next week, Poroshenko is set to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Belarusian capital of Minsk in their second face-to-face meeting since Poroshenko's election in May.</p> <p>The convoy’s return to Russia also coincided with <a href="">German</a> Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Kyiv on Saturday, in an apparent bid to extend her support for Ukraine.</p> <p>Some experts believe the crisis in Ukraine — which began after pro-<a href="">European</a> protesters toppled former President Viktor Yanukovych in February and grew worse after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula a month later — is entering a new phase of stagnation.</p> <p>According to Alexey Malashenko, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank, “both sides are starting to treat the confrontation between Russia and the West as something routine.”</p> <p>“Politicians and the public are bracing themselves for just permanently living with it,” he wrote in the center’s Eurasia Outlook blog on Thursday.</p> Need to Know Conflict Zones Diplomacy Military Aid Europe Political Risk Russia Sat, 23 Aug 2014 15:24:00 +0000 Dan Peleschuk 6238884 at The US considers going after the Islamic State in Syria <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 'We will do what's necessary to protect Americans and see that justice is done for what we saw with the barbaric killing of Jim Foley,' said White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Steve Holland, Thomson Reuters </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>EDGARTOWN Mass. — The <a href="">United States</a> is considering taking the fight against Islamic State militants into <a href="">Syria</a> after days of airstrikes against the group in <a href="">Iraq</a> and the beheading of an American journalist, the White House signaled on Friday.</p> <p>President Barack Obama, soon to end a two-week working vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, has not yet been presented with military options for attacking Islamic State targets beyond two important areas in Iraq, said White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.</p> <p>But Rhodes made clear that going after Islamic State forces based in Syria is an option after the release of a video this week showing one of the group's fighters beheading American journalist James Foley and threatening to kill a second American, Steve Sotloff.</p> <p>"We will do what's necessary to protect Americans and see that justice is done for what we saw with the barbaric killing of Jim Foley. So we're actively considering what's going to be necessary to deal with that threat, and we're not going to be restricted by borders," he said.</p> <p>The US effort against Islamic State thus far has been relatively limited. US forces have conducted more than 90 airstrikes in Iraq to protect the Iraqi Yazidi religious minority and attack Islamic State positions around the Mosul Dam.</p> <p>Extending the fight into Syria would allow opportunities for disrupting the group's supply lines. Republican Sen. John McCain told Reuters this week that Islamic State fighters have moved military equipment seized in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul into Syria and that they hold enclaves in Syrian territory that have been identified.</p> <p>A move into Syria, even only with air power, would be a reversal for Obama. He stepped back from a threat to launch airstrikes in Syria a year ago in response to a chemical weapons attack against civilians it blamed on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.</p> <p>Time and time again over the past year, Obama has rejected greater involvement in the three-year-old <a href="">Syrian civil war</a> out of concern about getting entangled in a conflict with no clear positive outcome for the United States.</p> <p>But officials say the situation now is different because Islamic State militants represent a direct threat to Americans and American interests. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that the Islamic State cannot be defeated without addressing the part of the group that is based in Syria.</p> <p>US forces have already had one direct ground engagement with Islamic State militants in Syria. The White House said this week that a rescue mission this summer aimed at securing the freedom of Foley, Sotloff and a handful of other American hostages led to a firefight in which a number of militants were killed. The hostages were not at the location.</p> <p>The United States is taking the Islamic State militants far more seriously now than it did six months ago, when Obama told the New Yorker magazine that they were the "JV team," which is short for "junior varsity" and means they are not the best players on the field.</p> <p>Rhodes said the group is far more dangerous now than it was six months ago.</p> <p><em>(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)</em></p> Need to Know World Leaders Conflict Zones Syria Diplomacy Military Iraq United States Sat, 23 Aug 2014 13:22:22 +0000 Steve Holland, Thomson Reuters 6238861 at White House calls James Foley's execution a 'terrorist attack' against the US <!--paging_filter--><p>The execution of American journalist James Foley represents a "terrorist attack" against the <a href="">United States</a>, the White House said Friday, three days after Islamic extremists released a video of his beheading.</p> <p>"When you see somebody killed in such a horrific way, that represents a terrorist attack — that represents a terrorist attack against our country and against an American citizen," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said.</p> Need to Know United States Fri, 22 Aug 2014 19:28:58 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6238534 at Media backgrounder: The investigation into James Foley’s kidnapping <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A timeline of key moments during the 21-month investigation. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> GlobalPost </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p><em>PRESS CONTACT: Rick Byrne,</em></p> <hr /> <p>BOSTON, Mass. &mdash; American journalist James Foley was killed on Aug. 19, 2014 by Islamic State militants. The Foley family, private security consultants, the US government and GlobalPost had been investigating Foley&rsquo;s whereabouts inside Syria and pursuing his release since Nov. 22, 2012.</p> <p>What follows is a timeline of major events during the 21-month attempt first to find and later to free Foley. Throughout those months, GlobalPost withheld significant amounts of information out of concern for the safety of hostages held in Syria and at the request of families whose loved ones were missing there. Some are still missing.</p> <p>Following his death, we are releasing details of Foley&rsquo;s case that help to explain the story of his captivity, and which may inform ongoing attempts to free foreign hostages held by the Islamic State.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Nov. 22, 2012: </strong>James Foley goes missing in Syria. Shortly after, GlobalPost hires consultants to assist with an investigation, in conjunction with the Foley family and government authorities, into his whereabouts.</p> <p><strong>Jan. 2, 2013:</strong> GlobalPost <a href="">first publicizes</a> Jim&rsquo;s kidnapping by gunmen in Idlib Province. CEO and Co-founder Phil Balboni says the investigation so far has involved &quot;many parties in the United States and in the Middle East.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Jan. 23, 2013: </strong>GlobalPost <a href="">publishes an update</a> on Foley&#39;s case, details of which continue to be extremely difficult to verify. &quot;Today, there is still no definitive news about his exact whereabouts or what group is responsible,&quot; Middle East editor Peter Gelling writes. &quot;The lack of information is deeply frustrating for the Foley family, which has taken to the media in recent weeks in the hopes the captors may come forward.&quot;</p> <p><strong>May 3, 2013: </strong>GlobalPost <a href="">publicizes new information</a> that suggests Foley is being held by the Syrian regime. Gelling writes: &quot;After a five-month investigation inside Syria and the wider Middle East, GlobalPost and the family of missing American journalist James Foley now believe the Syrian government is holding him in a detention center near Damascus.&quot; This information later turns out to be wrong.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Sept. 2013:</strong> For the first time, Foley&rsquo;s family and the rest of the team investigating his disappearance receive reliable information that he is alive. Key details, including indications that Foley is being held by Islamist militants, come from a young Belgian who had contact with Foley inside Syria. (More on this in later <a href="">comments by Balboni to NBC News</a>.)</p> <p><strong>Oct. 16, 2013</strong>: The Foleys <a href="">issue a public appeal</a> for Jim&rsquo;s release two days before his 40<sup>th</sup> birthday.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Nov. 22, 2013</strong>: On the one-year anniversary of Jim&rsquo;s kidnapping, <a href="">GlobalPost publishes an update</a> on the investigation. At this time there has been &quot;no direct contact with Jim and no communication with his kidnappers, nor has any ransom demand been received,&quot; CEO Balboni writes.</p> <p><strong>Nov. 26, 2013</strong>: For the first time, Foley&rsquo;s family hears from his captors, who do not identify themselves. They send an email to a member of the Foley family and to GlobalPost&rsquo;s Balboni. The message states that the captors have Jim and want money, soon, though they do not specify an amount.</p> <p><strong>Early to mid-Dec., 2013</strong>: In subsequent exchanges the Foley family obtains proof of Jim&rsquo;s life, based on correct answers from his captors to highly obscure, personal questions the Foleys had crafted with the help of federal officials and private consultants. In later contact, the kidnappers demand a ransom of 100 million euros (about $132.5 million) or the release of unspecified prisoners held by the United States in exchange for Jim&rsquo;s freedom. The Foley family thoroughly discusses the issue of paying a ransom with the authorities, private investigators, and GlobalPost. There is no negotiation over the amount of the ransom. (More from Balboni on this in later <a href="">comments quoted by CNN</a> and <a href="">NBC News</a>.)</p> <p>Investigations around this time indicate that Foley, who has been moved around Syria throughout his detention, is being held by Islamist militants in an Aleppo hospital. Information from former fellow hostages suggests he has been singled out for especially abusive treatment.</p> <p><strong>Late Dec., 2013</strong>: Foley&rsquo;s captors stop communicating with his family or any other members of the investigating team close to Christmas Day. GlobalPost believes this was likely due to internecine conflict among militants in Syria. It was around this time that the group now known as the Islamic State was kicked out of Aleppo by rival groups.</p> <p><strong>April, 2014:</strong> Captors in Syria begin to release for ransom a stream of Western journalists and aide workers who were held with Foley. GlobalPost investigators and members of the Foley family interview many of them and learn details about their captivity and Foley&#39;s condition &mdash; including the details that ransoms were paid for their release, generally with the support of their governments, and the approximate amount of the ransoms.</p> <p><strong>Aug. 12, 2014</strong>: The Foley family <a href="">receives an email</a> from the captors stating that Jim will be executed in retaliation for US bombings in Iraq against the Islamic State. The Foleys share the information with US authorities, private investigators, and GlobalPost. The family soon responds by email and pleads for mercy. The captors do not respond.</p> <p><strong>Aug. 19, 2014</strong>: A <a href="">video depicting James Foley&rsquo;s</a> decapitation is uploaded to YouTube. The Islamic State claims responsibility for the killing and threatens to kill another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, who is one of three Americans still in their custody.</p> <p><strong>Aug. 20, 2014</strong>: US intelligence officials confirm that the video of Foley&rsquo;s murder is authentic. President Barack <a href="">Obama makes a public statement</a> soon after, asserting: &ldquo;The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what&rsquo;s necessary to see that justice is done and we act against ISIL, standing alongside others.&rdquo;</p> james foley Need to Know Syria War United States Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:28:00 +0000 GlobalPost 6237889 at How polio is crippling Pakistan <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The country is the worst-affected in the world, and doctors say now is the time to fight it. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Indrani Basu </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>This week, two children &ndash; 1-year-old Ahmed and 16-month-old Laiba &ndash; became the <a href="">latest victims to polio in Pakistan</a>, taking the total cases in the country to 117 already this year. If current trends continue, this number is likely to grow substantially by the end of 2014.</p> <p>Even a few cases of polio can quickly infect other children, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of Center for Disease Control (CDC), <a href="">recently</a>. &ldquo;Without eradication, a resurgence of polio could paralyze more than 200,000 children worldwide every year within a decade,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>Pakistan is <a href="">one of the three remaining countries</a> in the world where polio is endemic. But while cases are surfacing thick and fast here, this is not true for the other two countries in this bracket. Only 8 incidents have been <a href="">reported</a> in Afghanistan in 2014 and the number is even lower in Nigeria &ndash; currently at just 5. So what is going wrong in Pakistan?</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><strong>North Waziristan, interrupted</strong></p> <p>A geographical breakdown of the incidents reveals that more than <a href="">70 percent of Pakistan&rsquo;s polio cases</a> this year have come from North Waziristan, part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This region was under a vaccination ban<a href=";"> imposed by local militant leaders</a> since June 2012. However, Pakistani military operations in the past two months that have chased away most militants here has presented a golden opportunity in the campaign against prevalence of polio in the country.</p> <p>This opportunity is not without challenges. Nearly <a href="">a million people have been displaced</a> from North and South Waziristan following the military action, resulting in a large number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are difficult to keep a track on. Since polio is an extremely infectious disease, spreading primarily through feces, the movement of these groups to different parts of Pakistan can easily lead to a fresh outbreak of the disease.</p> <p><strong>Myths and misconceptions</strong></p> <p>A <a href="">recent Harvard poll</a> in Pakistan has found that parents and other caregivers have several misconceptions against polio and its vaccine, resulting in fewer vaccinations even when they have access to immunization. Preliminary findings released by the researchers last month suggest that 30 percent of parents in Pakistan believe that paralysis from polio will be curable if their child got sick. Over a third of Pakistani parents in FATA aren&rsquo;t aware that oral polio vaccine (OPV) must be taken every time it is offered in order to maximize protection against the disease. More than one in ten parents hadn&rsquo;t even heard of polio.</p> <p>This parental refusal to get their children vaccinated comes from ignorance and illiteracy, said Dr. Tanveer Zubairi, a Lahore-based chief consultant radiologist and president of FIMA (Federation of Islamic Medical Association), <a href="">an Indiana-based non-profit</a> that has advisor status at the World Health organization (WHO).</p> <p>&ldquo;They don&rsquo;t know what polio is and that it doesn&rsquo;t have any cure,&rdquo; he said, citing a below 30 percent literacy rate in tribal areas. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t know that their children get crippled &ndash; for life.&rdquo;</p> <p>Parents are suspicious of vaccinators who come to their home &ndash; the Harvard survey found only about a quarter of the parents in FATA trusted them &ldquo;a great deal&rdquo;. Worse still, they had apprehensions of the vaccine itself &ndash; nearly half the parents in FATA had heard damaging rumors against the vaccine, and a majority of them believed these to be true. Both Ahmed and Laiba&rsquo;s parents had not got their children vaccinated.</p> <p>These myths surrounding the vaccine existed in both high and low risk regions, and many parents believed it would cause sterility, or tuberculosis, or some other disease in their children, said Dr. Zubairi. &ldquo;Some people are apprehensive that there is some sort of pork extract added to the vaccine,&rdquo; he said, referring to religious problems this would stoke in Muslim communities. &ldquo;But doctors have been trying to reassure people that they have checked and there is nothing of that sort.&rdquo;</p> <p>For even those who were open to vaccinating their children, coverage of the vaccine has been poor, as suggested by the findings of the study, which was conducted between November and December last year. While 70 percent of parents in FATA said that their children didn&rsquo;t receive vaccines, 15 percent said that vaccinators didn&rsquo;t even come to them during the last vaccination campaign.</p> <p>Though inaccessibility and security was a big reason for this poor coverage, with the lifting of the militant rule, agencies have finally got a chance to dive into these areas.</p> <p><strong>Step by step</strong></p> <p>The WHO declared polio an international public health emergency <a href="">earlier in May</a> this year. Between May 21 and August 9 this year, more than half a million children were vaccinated against polio, as per WHO estimates. Over 1.5 million doses of OPV were given to children in door-to-door vaccination campaigns for both the displaced and host communities.</p> <p>Vaccines are also being given in Afghanistan, where <a href="">several thousands of families have fled</a>, following the military action. Health workers have been sent to settlements where the displaced people are staying, to give them polio as well as other necessary vaccines. The Pakistani army too has procured some polio vaccine kits to administer doses to families that are difficult to reach.</p> <p>While this is encouraging news, is it enough? Along with these resources that are being pumped into the region, support infrastructure has to be evaluated too, experts suggest. Polio workers need to be recruited from these communities, and not at random, as it would breed more trust among parents.</p> <p>The Grand Imam of Ka&rsquo;aba (Mecca) recently <a href="">implored Muslims</a> around the world to get polio vaccines. This kind of positive message from the top of Islamic leadership is extremely useful. Yet, with many of these parents having no access to television or radio, these messages get lost in transit. Local religious and other influential leaders play an important part here to plug this gap and spread the message.</p> <p>&ldquo;People need clarification at various levels &ndash; local, familial, religious,&rdquo; said Dr. Zubairi. &ldquo;Efforts may not trickle down to all people at once but it&rsquo;s a start.&rdquo;</p> <p>Researchers from the Harvard poll suggest that polio workers can build trust by offering additional services to the community, especially clean water, which is a big need in FATA. Bundling the polio program with other child vaccines could also broaden the scope and reach of these efforts.</p> <p>Approaching polio through both oral vaccines as well as via injections could help reduce the spread of this crippling disease. While oral vaccines help improve community health (even the feces of a vaccinated child can help kill the polio virus in the neighborhood), said Dr. Zubairi, injections fully immunize the child by killing the virus leaving no scope for the disease.</p> <p>&ldquo;Perhaps then we&rsquo;ll finally bid farewell to this deadly disease.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">Gunmen kidnap six-member polio team in Pakistan</a></strong></p> <p><a href="">&nbsp;</a></p> <p class='u'></p> Polio Health Global Pulse Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:30:00 +0000 Indrani Basu 6238375 at Cameroon finds a way to celebrate World Mosquito Day <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Malaria kills 2,000 people per year in this country of 23 million people. Virtually all of these deaths could be prevented by mosquito control and early treatment. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Joanne Silberner </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>YAOUNDE, Cameroon &mdash;&nbsp;<span style="letter-spacing: 0px; line-height: 1.2;">How do you celebrate World Mosquito Day?</span></p> <p>If you&rsquo;re the NGO <a href="">Malaria No More</a>, you send &ldquo;junior ambassadors&rdquo; to Cameroon&rsquo;s capital city to lead a loud and raucous street rally.</p> <p>Onlookers crowd around a local official as he digs out sewage trenches so that water will flow and mosquitoes can&rsquo;t breed. They listen to a song about malaria, to speeches, and to children being quizzed. Kids who get the answers right get mosquito nets.</p> <p>The loudspeakers are turned up high, and despite the hot weather, men and boys, and women and girls in brightly colored dresses jostle to get close to the speakers, dancers and drummers.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><span style="letter-spacing: 0px; line-height: 1.2;">I&rsquo;m in Cameroon to look at anti-malaria projects funded by&nbsp;</span><span style="letter-spacing: 0px; line-height: 1.2;">ExxonMobil, including several outreach programs run by the NGO Malaria No More. Malaria kills 2,000 people per year in this country of 23 million people. Half of those who die here from malaria are children under five. Virtually all of these deaths could be prevented by mosquito control and early treatment &ndash; so much so that where the global health buzzword used to be &ldquo;malaria control,&rdquo; some people are now talking &ldquo;eradication.&rdquo;</span></p> <p>But those trying to eradicate malaria are facing a formidable foe: mosquitoes. They are the world&rsquo;s deadliest beings. Depending on whose numbers you want to believe, malaria-carrying mosquitoes kill 600,000 to over a million people a year. And then there&rsquo;s yellow fever. Dengue. Chikungunya. Encephalitis.</p> <p>Years ago I took a course on malaria taught by mosquito expert Andrew Spielman at the Harvard School of Public Health. An enthusiastic man who enjoyed life&rsquo;s ironies, he waxed rhapsodic about the mosquito&rsquo;s capabilities. While fully appreciative of the illnesses and deaths they cause, he considered them &ldquo;magnificent enemies,&rdquo; beautiful and efficient. He wanted people to admire them.</p> <p>In his book<em> Mosquito: A Natural History of Our Most Persistent and Deadly Foe</em>, Spielman imagines you, the reader, hearing the buzzing of a female mosquito (males don&rsquo;t bite), and sensing it preparing to suck your blood.</p> <p>&ldquo;At such a moment,&rdquo; he writes, &ldquo;you can be forgiven for failing to notice what an elegant and hardy thing she is. But she is.&rdquo;</p> <p>World Mosquito Day &mdash; August 20 &mdash; is celebrated in interesting ways each year. This year there was a party in the library at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that called for <a href="">&ldquo;tropical&rdquo; attire</a>.</p> <p>British scientist Ronald Ross was the first to celebrate this day, commemorating his own discovery on August 20, 1897 that mosquitoes carry malaria. Until then, malaria had been blamed on &ldquo;bad air&rdquo; &ndash; in fact, that&rsquo;s the derivation of the word &ldquo;malaria.&rdquo; But Ross discovered malaria parasites within the guts of mosquitoes. He was <a href=";type=summary&amp;url=/journals/bulletin_of_the_history_of_medicine/v072/72.3br_nye.html">known</a> as strong-willed, eccentric and egocentric (he named Mosquito Day in honor of his own discovery, after all), and he was also a poet.</p> <p>He wrote of his discovery:</p> <p><em>I know this little thing<br /> A myriad men will save.<br /> O Death, where is thy sting?<br /> Thy victory, O Grave?&nbsp;</em></p> <p>But 117 years later, death still has its sting. People are still dying because of mosquitoes. One prescription is for more attention to the little bug. In a <a href="">recent blog entry</a>, Bill Gates wondered why there is no TV channel featuring &ldquo;Mosquito Week&rdquo;.</p> <p>Globally, there are lots of fronts in the war on malaria, including distributing insecticide-treated bed nets, getting rid of standing water where mosquitos breed, providing adequate access to health care and educating people that malaria deaths are not inevitable.</p> <p>In Cameroon I&rsquo;ve been struck by the complacency in rural areas &ndash; and even in the city &ndash; about malaria. Malaria is a tragedy, but it&rsquo;s always been here, the thinking goes, and always will be.&nbsp;</p> <p>Maybe giving mosquitoes as much publicity as the diseases they cause will help. World Malaria Day, April 25, &ldquo;is like our Christmas,&rdquo; says Olivia Ngou of Malaria No More. &ldquo;We get a lot of attention.&rdquo; The group organizes public education events. The media show up. &ldquo;World Mosquito Day is not as popular,&rdquo; she says.</p> <p>But she&rsquo;s working on it. This year, posters, word-of-mouth and the noise of the rally itself have drawn lots of attention, and success &ndash; cameramen from all the local TV stations show up.</p> <p>Basted in DEET and marinated in an antimalarial drug, I listen to the rally. But already, I&rsquo;m staring at two recently-acquired mosquito bites.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost:&nbsp;<a href="">Uganda&#39;s deadly breeding ground for malaria: Mosquitoes and corruption</a></strong></p> <p class='u'></p> Malaria Health Global Pulse Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:31:00 +0000 Joanne Silberner 6237541 at Hamas publicly executes 18 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel <!--paging_filter--><p>Hamas-led gunmen in Gaza executed 18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel on Friday, a day after Israel tracked down and killed three top Hamas commanders, the highest-ranking militants to be killed in the six-week war.</p> <p>Seven people were shot dead in front of worshippers outside a mosque in one of Gaza's main squares, witnesses said, the first public executions in the Palestinian enclave since the 1990s. A further 11 were killed at an abandoned police station near Gaza City, Hamas security officials said.</p> <p>In the public execution, militants wearing masks and dressed in black gunned down the suspects, whose faces were covered and hands bound, as worshippers emerged from the Omari mosque on Palestine Square, one of Gaza's busiest districts.</p> <p>"The resistance has begun an operation called 'strangling the necks,' targeting collaborators who aid the (Israeli) occupation, kill our people and destroy houses," a pro-Hamas website said.</p> <p>A so-called conviction letter signed by the "Palestinian Resistance" was posted on a wall near to where the bodies of alleged collaborators lay.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px; letter-spacing: 0px; line-height: 1.2;">The notice read:</span></p> <p>"They provided the enemy with information about the whereabouts of fighters, tunnels of resistance, bombs, houses of fighters and places of rockets, and the occupation bombarded these areas killing a number of fighters... Therefore, the ruling of revolutionary justice was handed upon him."</p> <p>Earlier on Friday, 11 suspected collaborators were shot dead at an abandoned police station, a Hamas security official said. At the site, Reuters saw two bodies being loaded onto an ambulance before being told to leave the area.</p> <p>The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza denounced the killings.</p> <p>"We demand the Palestinian National Authority and the resistance (Palestinian armed factions) to intervene to stop these extra-judicial executions, no matter what reasons and the motives are," Raji al-Surani, the chairman of the organization, said in a statement.</p> <p>Israel launched an offensive on July 8 with the stated aim of putting an end to cross-border rocket fire from Gaza.</p> <p>Health officials in the small, densely populated enclave said the Palestinian death toll rose to 2,070 on Friday, mostly civilians, after a father and his son were killed in an Israeli air strike near Khan Younis in southern Gaza.</p> <p>Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have also been killed in the conflict.</p> <p><strong>Targeted attacks</strong></p> <p>The executions followed the killing by Israel of three of Hamas's most senior military commanders, who were hit in an air strike on a house in the southern city of Rafah on Thursday.</p> <p>Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised cooperation between Israel's military and its internal security service, Shin Bet, for the attack, which demonstrated a high level of knowledge about the whereabouts of Hamas's leaders.</p> <p>Hamas, which has dominated Gaza since seizing power there in 2007, fired more than 25 rockets into Israel on Friday, injuring two people, Israel's emergency services said. The Israel air force carried out more than 25 air strikes across the Gaza Strip, killing three men, Gaza medics said.</p> <p>Since a 10-day ceasefire collapsed on Tuesday, Israel has focused its attacks on the military leadership of Hamas.</p> <p>Hamas identified those killed on Thursday as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum, saying they had been at the forefront of the fight against Israel for two decades.</p> <p>Israel said two of them had been instrumental in the 2006 kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, who was held in Gaza for five years before being freed in a prisoner exchange, as well as other deadly attacks.</p> <p>On Tuesday, as the <a href="">Egyptian</a>-brokered ceasefire fell apart, an Israeli air strike hit a building in northern Gaza killing the wife and two children of Mohammed Deif, Hamas' top military commander. Deif, mastermind of a tunnel network under Gaza that has been used to attack Israel and long a target, appears to have survived, although his whereabouts are unknown.</p> <p>Attacks by Israeli artillery and air strikes have devastated many areas of Gaza, a densely populated enclave that is home to 1.8 million people. The United Nations says at least 425,000 people have been displaced by the fighting.</p> <p>While the intensity of rocket fire has diminished somewhat this week, Netanyahu remains under heavy pressure domestically to go further to combat the threat. As well as areas close to Gaza, the rockets have targeted Israel's business center <a href="">Tel Aviv</a> and near Ben Gurion airport, its international hub.</p> <p>On Thursday, Netanyahu granted preliminary approval for the call-up of 10,000 army reservists, signally the possibility of heightened military action in Gaza. But any such move would increase the risk to Israeli troops and civilians in Gaza.</p> <p>(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Luke Baker and Mark Heinrich)</p> Need to Know Israel and Palestine Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:16:03 +0000 Nidal al-Mughrabi and Allyn Fisher-Ilan, Thomson Reuters 6238288 at The trouble with Abenomics <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Optimism in Japan suddenly seems very short lived. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Geoffrey Cain </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p align="left">SEOUL, <a href="">South Korea</a> — For more than a year, the world has watched the bold economic experiment known as Abenomics, once exalted as the saving grace for two decades of economic torpor in <a href="">Japan</a>.</p> <p align="left">An elderly workforce, rigid economy, soaring national debt, and youth unemployment are just a few of the obstacles that have held back this once-mighty island nation, which is still the third largest economy in the world. It’s a marked fall from the golden era in the 1980s, the glory days of the Sony Walkman, Nintendo and sushi’s global debut.</p> <p align="left">Last week, Japan reported a GDP contraction of 6.8 percent in the second quarter, the biggest economic plunge since the 2011 Fukushima tsunami and nuclear meltdown.</p> <p align="left">In this nation of steep prices, consumers had responded to a hefty sales tax hike from 5 percent to 8 percent by cutting back on spending. Everybody saw this coming, following a similar hike in the late 1990s, and the effects will likely be temporary. Still, the plunge was deep, with the average Japanese household already drowning in high taxes, the burdensome costs of rearing children, and later-life care for a huge cohort of grandfathers and grandmothers unable to care for themselves.</p> <p align="left">Is it time to write off Abenomics as a temporary sugar high, rather than the tough and sustained workout regimen once promised?</p> <p align="left">Not necessarily. Abe is plotting a grander course than simply a Nintendo Generation revival.</p> <p align="left">Drawing on a centuries-old Japanese proverb about an archer’s “three arrows” — one arrow can easily be snapped, but three bound together cannot — the pragmatist and right-wing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe put forward a three-pronged strategy in 2013 that included financial and monetary stimulus, along with deep structural reforms in the economy.</p> <p align="left">The first two arrows were applauded as, at minimum, a temporary success. The sleepy stock market was jolted awake, and consumer spending went on the ascent.</p> <p align="left">But for all the hype, future success could depend on the increasingly elusive “third arrow” — the structural reforms like immigration and improving women’s workplace standing.</p> <p align="left">That’s unnerving Japan watchers once seduced by Abe’s grand vision.</p> <p align="left">After a year of confusion over when and how the third arrow would come into force, this summer the government approved a line of attack that includes a lower corporate tax rate, opening more daycares for busy female workers, and a restart to nuclear power plants shut down after the Fukushima disaster.</p> <p align="left">Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Actually, onlookers quickly slung their frustration at an administration accused of treading too lightly. They argued that Abenomics was treating deep-rooted structural problems — such as the rigid laws faced by migrant laborers in a homogenous nation, and the lack of workplace rights for women — with a quick and nifty back-rub.</p> <p align="left">Analysts say the lack of oomph in the third arrow came down to politics, with resistance coming from Japanese corporations, labor unions, and even farmers. In other words, Abe faced a tough fight from his very own supporters.</p> <p align="left">“The third arrow has disappointed to date, as it apparently touches on too many of Japan's own third rails,” said Sean King, senior vice president for Park Strategies, a consulting firm in New York.</p> <p align="left">“For example, whatever Abe's true feelings, Japan at large hasn't yet shown it's serious about key structural reforms like immigration and freer trade,” he said. “Without said reforms, Japan will keep losing competitive ground to other Asian markets and Abenomics may prove to have been a false dawn.”</p> <p align="left">Considering the extent to which Abe’s other ambitions rest on the success of a bustling, invigorated economy, the deeper, ongoing structural malaise could pull the rug from underneath other parts of Abe’s plan. Economic restructuring aside, there’s been talk of raising a standing army — which is banned under Japan’s peacetime constitution that was written with the help of American advisers after World War II.</p> <p align="left">Politically and economically speaking, erasing part of the text of Japan’s constitution to build a military can be a difficult and even perilous endeavor, requiring a national referendum. Defense is an expensive business, which adds yet another risk to Japan’s debt load, the heaviest in the world.</p> <p align="left">But tensions in <a href="">Asia</a> continue to simmer, and Tokyo needs the muscle to resist an increasingly pugnacious and defiant <a href="">China</a>. Late last year Beijing provocatively declared an “air defense zone” over the disputed Senkaku Islands, known in Chinese as the Diaoyu, a move that prompted John Kerry to deliver a warning to Chinese officials in February.</p> <p align="left">But understandably, there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress on the defense front. The Abe administration now says the changes will be instituted by 2020. But when Tokyo rings in the new decade, how many Japanese lawmakers will even remember that promise — like the rest of Abe’s directives?</p> Want to Know Japan South Korea Fri, 22 Aug 2014 04:31:44 +0000 Geoffrey Cain 6232814 at Merkel heads to Ukraine as support builds for tough sanctions against Russia <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Not even looming recession appears to be stopping Germany's rethink on Moscow. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jason Overdorf </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BERLIN, Germany &mdash; The last time Angela Merkel visited Kyiv, she was there to explain why she&#39;d opposed a US <a href="">initiative</a> to put Ukraine on a path to join NATO.</p> <p>That prospect was provoking fury in Russia, which invaded neighboring Georgia over that country&rsquo;s aspiration to do the same.</p> <p>This Saturday, Merkel&rsquo;s agenda promises to be very different.</p> <p>A longtime proponent of engagement rather than confrontation with Russia, she will meet with Ukraine&rsquo;s President Petro Poroshenko on Saturday in a clear sign of Germany&#39;s mounting support for his country&#39;s European ambitions.</p> <p>The difference between now and six years ago is Russian President Vladimir Putin&rsquo;s betrayal of Merkel&rsquo;s trust by breaking promises to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, after he annexed Crimea earlier this year and followed with support for pro-Moscow rebels fighting an insurgency in the country&rsquo;s east.</p> <p>The chancellor&rsquo;s talks will <a href="">focus</a> on Ukraine&rsquo;s security situation and explore &ldquo;concrete possibilities to support Ukraine in the current crisis,&rdquo; Steffen Seibert, Merkel&#39;s official spokesman, said Tuesday.</p> <p>Last week, negotiations in Germany between foreign ministers failed to end the crisis as Russia reportedly refused to stop or even acknowledge its support for rebel fighters in Crimea.</p> <p>Merkel will travel to Kyiv just days before Poroshenko and other European leaders <a href="">will meet</a> with Putin in Minsk on Tuesday.</p> <p>In that context, the visit is perhaps the strongest signal yet that concerns about Germany&rsquo;s economy &mdash; slowing thanks to European Union sanctions against Russia &mdash; won&rsquo;t derail the dramatic transformation underway in German-Russian relations, says Stefan Meister of the German Council on Foreign Relations.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are in the process of a fundamental change in how we see Russia,&rdquo; he said in a telephone interview. &ldquo;You have to understand the policy of the last 20-25 years has failed.&rdquo;</p> <p>That policy, marked by regular personal interactions between Merkel and Putin, was intended to nudge and cajole the former communist state to adopt democratic reforms through ever-greater economic ties.</p> <p>But as the Ukraine crisis has escalated, especially after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Merkel has steadily taken an ever-stronger stance and now appears to have won support for broad economic sanctions from the once-reluctant German business community.</p> <p>In May, the chief executives of BASF, Siemens, Volkswagen and Adidas were <a href="">lobbying</a> aggressively to prevent stiff sanctions against Russia.</p> <p>But even as the latest economic data <a href="">revealed</a> deep cracks in the European recovery last week,&nbsp;the tenor of comments from the business sector, along with public opinion, has begun to change.</p> <p>The economic data has driven home the idea that stagnation in investment driven by uncertainty in Ukraine is more damaging than any direct blow to trade with Russia, says the Kiel Institute&#39;s Klaus-Juergen Gern.</p> <p>&ldquo;At the moment, the feeling is that without some kind of sanctions, the Russians would not give in and the crisis will go on for a very long time,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>At the same time, a recent poll conducted by Infratest Dimap on behalf of broadcaster ARD showed that 70 percent of ordinary Germans now favor tougher sanctions, and that 82 percent no longer view Russia as a trustworthy economic partner.</p> <p>Acting on such views is coming with a price.</p> <p>Official data show Germany&#39;s economy contracted 0.2 percent in the second quarter, which ended June 30.</p> <p>The Federal Statistics Office <a href="">warned</a> that the economy was &ldquo;losing momentum&rdquo; even before the impact of current sanctions against Russia.</p> <p>And the German Chambers of Commerce recently said the economy is on &ldquo;a dangerous path,&rdquo; with a projected $15-billion shortfall in exports <a href="">expected</a> to put some 100,000 German jobs at risk.</p> <p>That makes recession almost inevitable. Ongoing strife in relations with Russia could also do irreparable damage to key sectors of the legendary Mittelstand &mdash; the small and medium-sized export firms that drive Germany&#39;s export-oriented economy &mdash; says Monika Hollacher of the German Engineering Federation.</p> <p>&ldquo;The mere threat of sanctions has already led to German companies losing many commissions,&rdquo; she wrote in a recent article. &ldquo;Sanctions will only accelerate this negative development. Long-term supply relationships and mutual trust between trading partners will potentially be damaged.&rdquo;</p> <p>In the past, German machine companies could stave off cheaper Asian competitors thanks to longstanding business relationships and the sterling reputation of German engineering.</p> <p>However, now those advantages have been virtually eliminated, says Alexander Loktev, a sales agent for German engineering companies in Russia.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&#39;ve already received inquiries from some customers asking us to look for machines from Asian producers,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s unclear how long Germany&rsquo;s commitment to sanctions will survive as the economic bite drags on.</p> <p>But Meister, the foreign relations expert, believes even recession is unlikely to reverse the shift in German policy.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think that everybody now understands that Russia changed the European order,&rdquo; Meister said, &ldquo;and we need to show them that it is unacceptable.&rdquo;</p> Merkel and Putin Need to Know World Leaders Conflict Zones Diplomacy Germany Fri, 22 Aug 2014 04:31:40 +0000 Jason Overdorf 6237694 at Love and outrage pour out on social media after James Foley's killing <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 'ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed' - @JohnKerry </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Allison Jackson </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>The Islamic State used social media to tell the world that it had executed American journalist James Foley, a GlobalPost correspondent who had been missing since November 2012, when he was kidnapped while reporting in Syria. The announcement came in the form of a video &mdash; one that was slickly produced and carefully edited &mdash; posted to YouTube. Almost immediately, the news spread across Twitter and other social networks.</p> <p>Since then, people have turned to social media to express their love for Foley and their and outrage at his senseless killing.&nbsp;Twitter and Facebook have been flooded with support for Foley&#39;s family and praise for his work. They&#39;ve also been filled with condemnation of his barbaric beheading. And, perhaps not surprisingly, they&#39;ve attracted debate over what should or shouldn&#39;t be shared and shown on those same networks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Support, affection, appreciation</strong></p> <p>The vast majority of social media reaction has been support for Foley&#39;s family, and appreciation and honor for Foley and his years of reporting. Friends, family, colleagues, and countless strangers filled Twitter with gratitude and genuine love.</p> <p>It poured in from Syria, where Foley went missing while he reported &mdash; fearlessly and with a commitment to truth and justice &mdash; on the popular uprising against Bashar al-Assad.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Syrians pay tribute to James Foley <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; i100 (@thei100) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>It came from some of the most respected organizations in journalism.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>A senseless act of brutality does not erase extraordinarily purposeful life of brave reporter <a href="">#JamesFoley</a> <a href="">@GlobalPost</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; Nieman Foundation (@niemanfdn) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>It came from his colleagues.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>It was an honor working with you, <a href="">#JamesFoley</a>. The <a href="">@GlobalPost</a> family will miss you deeply. <a href="">@findjamesfoley</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; Thomas Mucha (@thomaswmucha) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>And, of course, it came from his family. Foley&rsquo;s mother, Diane, posted a beautiful and devastating statement to Facebook.</p> <div id="fb-root"> &nbsp;</div> <script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="" data-width="670"> <div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"> <a href="">Post</a> by <a href="">Free James Foley</a>.</div> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Outrage</strong></p> <p>Most of the world was sickened by the news of Foley&#39;s execution and by the images circulated by the Islamic State. World leaders, celebrities, journalists and ordinary people around the world took to Twitter and Facebook to vent their outrage.&nbsp;</p> <p>Barack Obama gave a public statement, but for those who might have missed it, his administrion also posted his angry words to Twitter.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>&quot;Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL.&quot; &mdash;President Obama</p> <p> &mdash; The White House (@WhiteHouse) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>British Prime Minister David Cameron also shared his fury.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>If true, the murder of James Foley is shocking and depraved. I will today chair meetings on the situation in Iraq/Syria.</p> <p> &mdash; David Cameron (@David_Cameron) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>US Secretary of State John Kerry offered a terse and forceful condemnation.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed.</p> <p> &mdash; John Kerry (@JohnKerry) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Debate and censure</strong></p> <p>The gruesome video, which US intelligence agencies confirmed is&nbsp;<a href="">authentic</a>, sparked a more complicated reaction than just support and outrage.</p> <p>Social media users and some journalists found themselves seriously conflicted over whether to share the video and stills taken from it. Those debates organized themselves &mdash; in classic Twitter fashion &mdash; around a set of hashtags:</p> <p><a href=";src=typd">#RespectJamesFoley</a>,&nbsp;<a href="">#ISISblackout</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href=";src=typd" target="_blank">#ISISmediablackout</a></p> <p>Some people felt that sharing images from the Islamic State video were disrespectful to Foley. They said Foley shouldn&#39;t be remembered as an abused captive awaiting his death, but rather, as a friend, son, and journalist. They&nbsp;urged others to share photos of Foley taken before he was kidnapped, as well as examples of his work, and not the images posted by his killers.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Please tweet this photo of James Foley and not any of him in the hands of his gutless murderers. <a href="">#RIPJamesFoley</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) <a href="">August 19, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Many people have refused to distribute or watch images from the video for another reason &mdash; because that&#39;s exactly what Islamic State wants us to do.&nbsp;</p> <p>Islamic State has long been&nbsp;<a href="">active</a>&nbsp;on social media networks, uploading shocking images and videos of mass executions, random killings, amputations and beheadings carried out by its militants across Syria and Iraq.&nbsp;Sharing those images and videos means helping the group expand the reach of its propaganda.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Please don&#39;t search for the James Foley murder video. That&#39;s what the terrorists want. <a href="">#RespectJamesFoley</a></p> <p> &mdash; Kimothy Walker (@KimothyWalker) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <p>Foley&rsquo;s sister, Kelly, also called on social media users not to share the video of her brother&#39;s final, terrifying moments.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Kelly Foley. Respect. Don&#39;t let ISIS win in his terror battle. <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; Luis Ceballos (@luisceballos15) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <p>American actress Mia Farrow was among the thousands of prominent Twitter users asking people to ignore the shocking footage.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Blackout on group that murdered James Foley. Don&#39;t share video. Give them nothing. <a href="">#RespectJamesFoley</a></p> <p> &mdash; mia farrow (@MiaFarrow) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <p>Those who chose to ignore the call were censured in several ways.</p> <p>When the&nbsp;<a href="">New York Post</a>&nbsp;published a horrifying still photo on its front page, social media users collectively lambasted the tabloid.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en" style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 20px;"><p style="font-size: 13px;">Bravo! Could also start with&nbsp;<a href="" style="font-size: 13px;">@nypost</a>&nbsp;front page tweet. RT&nbsp;<a href="" style="font-size: 13px;">@vivian</a>: Yet another reason I&rsquo;m proud to work at Twitter&nbsp;<a href="" style="font-size: 13px;"></a></p> <p> &mdash; Heidi N. Moore (@moorehn)&nbsp;<a href="" style="font-size: 13px;">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <p>Social media networks responded to the call. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube ordinarily ban graphic violent content, but they seemed particularly focused on removing images of Foley that came from the video.</p> <p><a href="">YouTube</a>&nbsp;removed the video minutes after it was uploaded to the websites on Tuesday. It&#39;s been removing copies every since.</p> <p>Twitter has been suspending accounts that share the images.</p> <p>Twitter CEO Dick Costolo posted this tweet.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; dick costolo (@dickc) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>In the United Kingdom, punishment might be even more severe for people who choose to watch or distribute the video.&nbsp;<a href="">British police</a>&nbsp;have warned social media users in the UK that sharing the video might violate an anti-terrorism law and land them in prison.</p> <p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly said James Foley went missing in April 2012. Foley was kidnapped on Nov. 22 of that year.</em></p> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> Want to Know United States Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:34:00 +0000 Allison Jackson 6236647 at Decoding Obama's 'relentless' quest for justice against the Islamic State <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The president has promised to ‘see that justice is done’ for the brutal killing of journalist James Foley. But what does that actually mean? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jean MacKenzie </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Barack Obama was firm and succinct on Wednesday as he expressed anger at the brutal murder of American journalist James Foley.</p> <p>&ldquo;The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people,&rdquo; the president said in Martha&rsquo;s Vineyard, where he&rsquo;s vacationing. &ldquo;We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what&rsquo;s necessary to see that justice is done.&rdquo;</p> <p>The gruesome death of Foley, a <a href="" target="_blank">GlobalPost colleague</a>, has stunned the world.</p> <p>His killer spoke with a British accent &mdash; sending chills throughout the international community and prompting a feverish <a href=" " target="_blank">search for clues in Britain</a>.</p> <p>British Prime Minister David Cameron raced home from his own holiday to chair meetings on Iraq and Syria, fueling speculation that he might be <a href="" target="_blank">considering more robust involvement</a> in defeating the Islamic extremists who control large areas in both those embattled countries.</p> <p>As time passes, pressure is mounting on Western leaders to turn emotion and rhetoric into actions to see, as Obama vowed, that justice is done. The question now is what does justice entail?</p> <p>Some are calling for the US to ramp up the military campaign Obama began when on Aug. 7 he authorized airstrikes in Iraq against the Islamic State (IS; also known as ISIS or ISIL).</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Why is the Islamic State still so strong?</a></strong></p> <p>Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an unapologetic cheerleader for aggressive US military power abroad, wrote: &ldquo;<a href=";utm_medium=twitter&amp;utm_source=twitter" target="_blank">Time to annihilate ISIS; here&rsquo;s how</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>His outline might raise some eyebrows.</p> <blockquote><p>&ldquo;In brief, it will require a commitment of some 10,000 US advisers and special operators, along with enhanced air power, to work with moderate elements in both Iraq and Syria &mdash; meaning not only the peshmerga but also the Sunni tribes, elements of the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Free Syrian Army &mdash; to stage a major offensive to rout ISIS out of its newly conquered strongholds. The fact that Nouri al-Maliki is leaving power in Baghdad clears away a major obstacle to such a campaign.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Brian Fishman, a fellow at the New America Foundation, has one word for this approach: &ldquo;bullshit.&rdquo;</p> <p>In a piece published Wednesday by the national security website &ldquo;War on the Rocks,&rdquo; Fishman argues those like Boot are vastly underestimating what it might take to try and roll back IS.</p> <p>In his piece titled &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">Don&rsquo;t BS the American people about Iraq, Syria, and ISIL</a>,&rdquo; Fishman calls for a more open discussion of policy options:</p> <blockquote><p>&ldquo;If destroying ISIL becomes the near-term policy goal &hellip; then 10,000-15,000 troops vastly understates the true commitment, which will actually require years, direct military action on both sides of the Iraq/Syria border, tens (if not hundreds) of billions of dollars, and many more than 15,000 troops. ISIL is an inherently resilient organization &mdash; look how far they have come since getting &lsquo;rolled back&rsquo; during the Surge in 2007 when 150,000 American troops were occupying the country.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, the US would be getting into exactly the kind of conflict its leader, and most of its citizens, seem intent on avoiding.</p> <p>Obama came into office in 2009 as the president who would end wars, not start them. Former US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says the president is still intent on that legacy.</p> <p>&ldquo;Mr. Obama may have hoped at the end of 2014 to declare a formal end not just to the war in Afghanistan, but the broader war on terror as well,&rdquo; Crowley <a href="" target="_blank">wrote for the BBC</a> on Wednesday. &ldquo;The Islamic State&#39;s emergence as the leading extremist actor in the Middle East &mdash; supplanting rival Al Qaeda &mdash; probably renders that prospect as moot.&rdquo;</p> <p>Still, the White House will not go it alone.</p> <p>&ldquo;From governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it does not spread,&rdquo; Obama said Wednesday.</p> <p>This, Crowley says, is in keeping with the administration&rsquo;s strategy.</p> <p>&ldquo;The US will help with direct action, support and training as partners improve their security capabilities, but [Obama&rsquo;s] intent is ultimately to avoid a perpetual US-led &lsquo;war&rsquo; &hellip; America is not re-engaging in the war in Iraq it waged between 2003-11.&rdquo;</p> <p>But as Stephen Biddle, a George Washington University professor who&rsquo;s served on US military assessment teams in Afghanistan and Iraq, points out, that may be a technicality.</p> <p>&quot;The administration can call it whatever they want, but semantics aside, they&#39;re now waging war,&quot; he <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> Foreign Policy magazine.</p> <p><img src="" width="100%" /><br /> <span style="color: rgb(59, 58, 38); font-family: Verdana, Arial,<br /> Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px;">Kurdish fighters inspect the remains of a car, bearing an Islamic State (IS) image, after it was targeted by a US airstrike in the village of Baqufa, north of Mosul, on Aug. 18. (Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)</span></p> <p>This could mean playing right into the hands of the militants, according to some experts.</p> <p>Thomas Hegghammer, director of terrorism research at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) in Oslo, says the Islamic State is doing its best to drag the US into direct confrontation.</p> <p>&ldquo;ISIS has done a lot of things in quick succession,&rdquo; he said in a phone interview with GlobalPost. &ldquo;There has been the attack on the Yazidis, the raid into Kurdistan, and now the execution. This is slightly unusual for them. Why now? It made me think they are doing it deliberately to provoke a reaction.&rdquo;</p> <p>This is certainly borne out by the militants&rsquo; own rhetoric: They are positively gloating at the prospect of a full-out war with the US, for the bump in recruitment it might give.</p> <p>&ldquo;The stronger the war against the States gets, the better this will help hesitant brothers to join us. America will send its rockets, and we will send our bombs. Our land will not be attacked while their land is safe,&rdquo; one fighter <a href="" target="_blank">told Reuters</a>.</p> <p>It would also boost IS&rsquo; legitimacy in the world of militant Islamism, Hegghammer says.</p> <p>&ldquo;They can say, &lsquo;See, ISIS is so important that the US comes after it,&rsquo;&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;This makes it the group to join for those who are upset with the West.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Foley execution boosts European support for intervention in Iraq</a></strong></p> <p>IS wants a relatively small intervention, he insists, not something that could do it major damage.</p> <p>And this may be exactly what it gets. Any action that would result in real damage to the extremist group is unlikely at present, according to Hegghammer.</p> <p>&ldquo;The US cannot do it on its own,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If the willingness to pay the price were high enough, they probably could, but we&rsquo;re not there now.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Islamic State has threatened to kill another hostage, US journalist Steven Sotloff, if Obama does not stop the air war.</p> <p>Washington&rsquo;s answer was swift and direct: On Wednesday it ordered additional airstrikes against IS targets.</p> <p>The US has a strict policy of not negotiating with terrorists; this can be difficult at times for those being held, <a href="" target="_blank">writes David Rohde of Reuters</a>, who was himself held hostage for seven months in Afghanistan.</p> <p>&ldquo;There are no easy answers in kidnapping cases,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;The United States cannot allow terrorist groups to control its foreign policy.&rdquo;</p> <p>But even less can it afford to engage in a war that may ultimately prove fruitless, if not counterproductive.</p> <p>Owen Jones, columnist for the Guardian newspaper, <a href="" target="_blank">voiced</a> a widespread frustration:</p> <blockquote><p>&ldquo;Foley&rsquo;s murder will inevitably intensify calls for further Western military involvement. Those agitating for such a course of action have a number of questions to answer. The &lsquo;war on terror&rsquo; began 13 years ago. It has involved bombs raining down on Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. And with what success? Jihadism is stronger than ever; ISIS is not only more extreme than Al Qaeda, but what it has achieved surely exceeds Osama bin Laden&rsquo;s wildest ambitions. Who can deny that the West has served as a recruiting sergeant for Islamic extremism, that it effectively helped hand large swathes of Iraq and Libya over to such elements?&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Good questions. Unfortunately, there are no answers. Not yet, at least.</p> Islamic State Syria Want to Know War Iraq United Kingdom United States Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:52:00 +0000 Jean MacKenzie 6237540 at The Ebola outbreak, in 15 numbers <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The current outbreak is on track to kill more people than all previous outbreaks combined. There aren't enough doctors. And women are at particular risk. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan McConnell </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Ebola continues to spread in West Africa. Health workers predict the outbreak will continue for at least another six months meaning it will, undoubtedly, be the deadliest outbreak on record. Here are 15 numbers that help put it in perspective.</p> <h2> 1,350</h2> <p>Number of people killed in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, <a href="">as of 20 August</a></p> <h2> 280</h2> <p>Number of people killed in the previous most deadly outbreak, which was the first one, <a href="">in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976</a></p> <h2> 1,590</h2> <p>Total number of people killed in all previous Ebola outbreaks <a href="">in DR Congo, Gabon, Sudan and Uganda, 1976-2012</a></p> <p>This current outbreak is approaching the point where it will have killed more people than all previous Ebola outbreaks combined.</p> <h2> 55%</h2> <p>The mortality rate in this outbreak: <a href="">1,350 deaths out of 2,473 cases</a></p> <h2> 90%</h2> <p>Highest recorded mortality rate in any Ebola outbreak affecting more than a single individual, <a href="">recorded in DR Congo in 2003</a> when 128 people died out of 143 cases</p> <h2> 1,123</h2> <p><a href="">Number of people </a>who have contracted Ebola and survived in this current outbreak</p> <h2> 170</h2> <p><a href="">Number of health workers</a> infected with Ebola during the current outbreak, of whom at least 81 have died</p> <h2> 55-75%</h2> <p>Estimated percentage of the dead who are female in the current outbreak</p> <p>It is <a href="">thought</a> that women&rsquo;s positions as caregivers &mdash; both in the health professions and in the home, and in particular during funeral rites &mdash; places them at a disproportionate risk of catching the virus.</p> <h2> 50,000</h2> <p><a href=";SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&amp;CTIME=2014-08-20-12-07-50">Number of residents</a> forcibly quarantined inside West Point, a congested shantytown in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.</p> <h2> 3</h2> <p>Number of white foreigners who have received the experimental drug ZMapp (two Americans and one Spaniard)</p> <h2> 3</h2> <p>Number of African health workers who have received the experimental drug ZMapp (<a href="">two Liberians and one Nigerian</a>)</p> <h2> 0</h2> <p>Doses of ZMapp <a href="">still available worldwide</a></p> <h2> 4</h2> <p>Number of countries, all in West Africa, affected by the current Ebola outbreak: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria</p> <h2> 0</h2> <p>Number of confirmed Ebola cases outside of West Africa (not including people evacuated while suffering from the disease)</p> <h2> 1-2</h2> <p><a href="">Number of doctors</a> per 100,000 people in affected countries</p> Africa Want to Know Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:35:25 +0000 Tristan McConnell 6237424 at Ukrainian border guards begin checks on Russian aid trucks <!--paging_filter--><p>Ukrainian border guards began on Thursday to inspect a Russian truck convoy carrying aid earmarked for humanitarian relief in eastern Ukraine that has been stranded at the frontier between the two former Soviet republics for nearly a week.</p> <p>Kyiv believes the convoy of some 260 trucks, carrying water, food and medicines, could prove a Trojan horse for <a href="">Russia</a> to get weapons to pro-Russian separatists battling Ukrainian forces in the region — a notion that Moscow has dismissed as absurd.</p> <p>"I can confirm that at 2:15 p.m. the Ukrainian side began border-customs formalities relating to the Russian humanitarian cargo," border guard spokesman Andriy Demchenko told Reuters.</p> <p>Asked on whose territory the cargo was, he replied: "On the territory of the Russian border point."</p> <p>It was not clear when the trucks would finally be authorized to enter Ukrainian territory, which at that border point is under rebel control. The rebels granted Kyiv's border guards permission to access the crossing to check the trucks.</p> <p>A Reuters witness saw 16 trucks move into territory beyond the Russian checkpoint, later followed by a second mini-convoy of 16 vehicles.</p> <p>The aid is intended to alleviate a humanitarian crisis in the city of Luhansk, one of two big cities in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east which is being held by the rebels. The other is Donetsk, the region's main industrial hub.</p> <div style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;min-width:300px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:61.279461% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="364" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=lH3xJJgc0Zhd0BrCDzaHysByveBhYSKEFlAqbsiZo2U=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;"> </p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank">#453849160</a> / <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank"></a></div> </div> <p>The forces of the Western-backed Kyiv government have been steadily gaining the upper hand over the separatists but fighting continues to rage in Donetsk, Luhansk and other urban centers across the Russian-speaking region.</p> <p><strong>Red Cross 'ready to roll'</strong></p> <p>Luhansk has been largely cut off by the conflict and is into its 19th day without water and regular supplies of electricity, which have hit mobile and landline phone connections. Only vital foodstuffs are on sale in the few shops remaining open.</p> <p>Kyiv and its Western allies accuse Moscow of supporting and arming the rebels. Moscow denies such allegations but has warned of a "humanitarian catastrophe" in eastern Ukraine.</p> <p>Ukraine has insisted that the truck convoy comply with border inspections and other formalities before being allowed to cross into its territory under supervision by the Red Cross, which will be responsible for distributing the aid.</p> <p>The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has sent 35 staff to help smooth the way for the Russian convoy and intends to accompany the Russian drivers and trucks with its own vehicles.</p> <p>"We are ready to roll with this convoy, there has been a last-minute delay. We are hopeful that it will be resolved shortly," ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson told Reuters.</p> <p>"Last-minute decisions from the Ukrainian side have delayed the process," he said, declining to elaborate.</p> <p>The ICRC has begun delivering aid donated by the Ukrainian government to a number of towns in eastern Ukraine, including Starobilsk, Lysychansk and Syevyerodonetsk, with the help of the Ukrainian Red Cross.</p> <p>"The distribution of goods such as fruit and vegetables has already reached over 20,000 displaced people in shelters and hospitals," the ICRC said, referring to the aid sent by Kyiv.</p> <p>The United Nations has put the death toll in the conflict at over 2,000, including civilians and combatants. That figure has nearly doubled since late July, when Ukrainian forces stepped up their offensive and the conflict spread to major urban areas.</p> <p>(Reporting by Dmitry Madorsky; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Natalia Zinets in Kyiv; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin and Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Gareth Jones)</p> Need to Know Europe Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:23:00 +0000 Dmitry Madorsky, Thomson Reuters 6237523 at Thai parliament appoints junta leader as the country's new prime minister <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="">Thailand</a>'s coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha was appointed prime minister on Thursday by a legislature he hand-picked, giving the army chief a veneer of legitimacy even while the military presses on with efforts to silence its critics.</p> <p>The army seized power on May 22 in a bloodless coup following six months of sometimes deadly street protests that contributed to the ousting of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose populist government was opposed by the Bangkok royalist establishment.</p> <p>Although Prayuth's appointment paves the way for an interim government to be set up in the coming weeks, power will remain firmly in the junta's hands. The general has said he plans to press ahead with a year of political reforms before a new election that he said will take place by late 2015.</p> <p>"It is designed to give him the power to run the country according to the law. The premier position will give him legal power in the Thai governance system," Gothom Arya, a lecturer in human rights studies at Mahidol University, told Reuters.</p> <p>The nomination comes as no surprise — the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) that chose Prayuth is largely considered little more than a rubber stamp parliament tasked with enacting sweeping reforms under the army's watch.</p> <p>The 60-year-old Prayuth will retire as army chief in September but will stay on as head of the junta, formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order. His appointment will need to be endorsed by Thailand's king.</p> <p>In the weeks leading up to the coup Prayuth denied rumors that the military was planning to take control, but a Reuters report in May revealed the army had a plan ready that ran through various scenarios and how the military should respond.</p> <p>Yingluck, the sister of self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, had already been forced to step down on May 7, after a court found her guilty of abuse of power, but the army said its putsch to remove the remnants of her government two weeks later was necessary to restore order.</p> <p>Prayuth, who was not present at Thursday's vote in the legislature, has said he will hand over power once a three-phase roadmap of reconciliation, an interim government to oversee reforms and elections is complete.</p> <p>Moments after his appointment Prayuth, who was inspecting troops at an army camp in Chonburi province south of Bangkok, was asked by reporters whether he had heard the news.</p> <p>"I didn't know I had been asked to join," Prayuth said, shaking his head, adding: "First, I want the country to move on."</p> <p><strong>'Cosmestic change'</strong></p> <p>Since launching the coup, Prayuth has displayed signs of authoritarianism. A draft 2015 fiscal budget was approved on Monday in a unanimous vote, with only three abstentions by the NLA president and deputies according to convention.</p> <p>"Nobody had any problem. Nobody disagreed," Prayuth said after the vote on Monday.</p> <p>Australia, the <a href="">United States</a> and the <a href="">European</a> Union downgraded diplomatic ties with Thailand after the coup and western diplomats Reuters spoke to said the appointment amounted to little more than a public relations exercise.</p> <p>"The prime minister title is just a cosmetic change and the nomination is not unexpected," said one Western diplomat in Bangkok, who declined to be named.</p> <p>"Prayuth is a soldier and not a democratically elected politician and Western nations will continue to press Thailand for progress toward free and fair elections. Right now, we are more concerned about Thailand's human rights record."</p> <p>The army detained scores of politicians and activists following the coup. Most have since been released although the army has yet to release official figures on the total number of people summoned, detained and released.</p> <p>An opposition activist has alleged she was tortured in military custody. The military has denied the allegations, which it said were "100 percent fabricated."</p> <p>Thailand has been bitterly divided for years between supporters of Yingluck and her brother Thaksin, a telecoms billionaire who was himself ousted by the army in 2006, and the traditional establishment in the capital and the south.</p> <p>Many of Prayuth's reform plans echo demands made by the anti-government protesters who hounded Yingluck and played a hand in her downfall. They wanted the electoral system to be redrawn to eliminate the influence of Thaksin.</p> <p>Since taking power, the junta has purged many officials linked to Thaksin in the civil service and the police force.</p> <p>An outspoken leader, Prayuth became commander of the First Army Region, which oversees Bangkok and the central plains, in 2006 and became commander-in-chief of the army in 2010.</p> <p>Mahidol University lecturer Gothom said it was hard to predict what Prayuth would do next.</p> <p>"If he doesn't respect the timing of reforms, interim government and elections then we will be in trouble," he said.</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak and Kaweewit Kaewjinda; Editing by Alex Richardson)</p> Need to Know Thailand Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:29:05 +0000 Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Thomson Reuters 6237426 at US opens criminal probe into journalist James Foley's killing <!--paging_filter--><p>Update:</p> <p>Reuters — The US Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the death of American journalist James Foley, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday.</p> <p>Foley was beheaded by the Islamist militant group Islamic State, an act shown in a video released on Tuesday in which the group called for the <a href="">United States</a> to end its airstrikes in Iraq. Obama responded that the United States would be relentless in fighting the organization despite the killing.</p> <p>The identity of Foley's killer, whose face was covered in the video, is unknown.</p> <hr><p>US special forces were sent into <a href="">Syria</a> this year to try to rescue American hostages held by Islamist militants, US officials said, as international revulsion mounted Thursday over the beheading of journalist James Foley.</p> <p>President Barack Obama demanded that the world take action against the "cancer" of jihadist extremism after the execution of the American journalist by Islamic State militants who have seized swathes of Syria and Iraq.</p> <p>Outraged US allies have pledged to help in the battle against the Islamic State, sending in weapons and other aid to Kurdish forces fighting the extremists in northern Iraq, while Washington pressed on with air strikes.</p> <p>US government officials confirmed Wednesday that special forces had been sent to Syria over the summer to try to rescue people held hostage by the IS militants, reportedly including Foley.</p> <p>"This operation involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL (IS)," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement, without confirming if Foley was among the captives.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Why is the Islamic State still so strong?</a></strong></p> <p>"Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location."</p> <p>The White House said Obama had "authorized action at this time because it was the national security team's assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in ISIL (IS) custody."</p> <p>In the execution video, a black-clad militant said that Foley, a 40-year-old freelance journalist, was killed to avenge US air strikes against IS.</p> <p>The man, speaking with a British accident, then paraded a second US reporter, Steven Sotloff, before the camera and said he, too, would die unless Obama changed course.</p> <p>In the five-minute video, Foley is seen kneeling on the ground, dressed in an orange outfit that resembles those worn by prisoners held at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay.</p> <p><strong>'Justice must be done' </strong></p> <p>Foley was kidnapped in northern Syria in November 2012 and his grisly murder has provoked revulsion and condemnation across the globe.</p> <p>"When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what's necessary to see that justice is done," Obama said Wednesday as US jets continued to strike IS targets in Iraq despite the threat hanging over Sotloff.</p> <p>The State Department has asked for 300 more US troops to be sent to Iraq to protect US facilities.</p> <p>"We will be vigilant and we will be relentless... From governments and peoples across the <a href="">Middle East</a>, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so it does not spread," Obama said.</p> <p>British Prime Minister David Cameron broke off his holiday to convene urgent meetings of the threat posed by IS, with rising concerns about how many jihadists are walking Britain's streets.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Foley execution boosts European support for intervention in Iraq</a></strong></p> <p>"We have not identified the individual responsible, but from what we have seen, it looks increasingly likely that it is a British citizen," Cameron told reporters. "This is deeply shocking."</p> <p>Richard Barrett, former head of counterterrorism at foreign intelligence service MI6, said he believed the suspected killer would be brought to justice "sooner or later."</p> <p>Interpol has called for a global response to the Islamist militant threat, with monitors covering the conflict in Syria saying the Islamic State has more than 50,000 fighters in that country alone, including about 20,000 foreigners.</p> <p>Interpol chief Ronald Noble said there should be a "multilateral response against the terror threat posed by radicalized transnational fighters traveling to conflict zones in the Middle East."</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Britain searching for Foley killer</a></strong></p> <p>The European Union joined international condemnation of Foley's "outrageous" beheading.</p> <p>"Such forms of terrorism constitute one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and the EU is more committed than ever to support international efforts to fight terrorism," said a spokesman for foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.</p> <p>Last week, EU foreign ministers held a rare summer meeting to coordinate the bloc's response to the jihadist onslaught and gave unanimous approval to the arming of Iraqi Kurd forces by individual member states.</p> <p>French President Francois Hollande has called for an international conference on tackling the Islamic State.</p> <p>"If the world doesn't organize regarding this group there will be other equally appalling images, which won't only concern journalists, they've crucified people," he said.</p> <p>The president of the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, described the beheading as a "new wake-up call" to the world, saying IS actions were not only "embarrassing" to Islam but "humiliating".</p> <p><strong>'Jim wouldn't want us to hate'</strong></p> <p>Foley's parents, John and Diane, paid tribute to their son and called for other hostages to be released.</p> <p>"Jim would never want us to hate or be bitter. We cannot do that and we are just so very proud of Jimmy and we are praying for the strength to love like he did," Diane said.</p> <p>The scale of the threat from the Islamic State became clear in June when the group, then known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, declared the dawn of a Muslim caliphate and seized control of large parts of eastern Syria and northern Iraq.</p> <p>Obama reacted this month by ordering US warplanes to counter threats to US personnel in the Kurdish regional capital Arbil and to civilian refugees from Iraqi religious minority groups.</p> <p>He has insisted the scope of the strikes would remain limited, but Iraqi officials and observers have argued that only foreign intervention can turn the tide on jihadist expansion in Iraq.</p> <p>Shia militias, federal soldiers, Kurdish troops and Sunni Arab tribes have been battling IS for weeks in some areas but have been unable to clinch a decisive victory.</p> <p>burs-dw/txw/mkh</p> Need to Know Iraq Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:53:00 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6237399 at Israeli air strike kills 3 Hamas commanders in Gaza <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="">Israel</a> killed three senior Hamas commanders in an air strike on the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the clearest signal yet that Israel is intent on eliminating the group's military leadership after a failed attempt on the life of its top commander this week.</p> <p>Hamas, which dominates Gaza, named the men as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum and said they were killed in the bombing of a house in the southern town of Rafah. All three were described as senior Hamas military figures.</p> <p>The Israeli military and Shin Bet, the internal security service, confirmed that two of the men were targeted, in what would constitute the killing of the most senior Hamas leaders since Israel launched its offensive in Gaza on July 8.</p> <p>Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the "outstanding intelligence" and said in a statement the Hamas leaders "planned deadly attacks against Israeli civilians."</p> <p>After six weeks of conflict in which more than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians, Israeli air strikes since a 10-day ceasefire collapsed on Tuesday appear to have been focused more intently on Hamas's armed wing.</p> <p>Late on Tuesday, the Israeli air force bombed a house in northern Gaza, an attempt, Hamas said, to assassinate Mohammed Deif, its top military commander. Deif's wife and seven-month-old son were killed but Deif escaped, Hamas said.</p> <p>After Thursday's air strike, hundreds of Palestinians rushed to the site in southern Gaza calling for revenge.</p> <p>"The assassinations of the three Qassam leaders is a grave crime," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters. "But it will not break our people and Israel will pay the price for it."</p> <p>Shin Bet said Abu Shammala was head of Hamas's southern command and described al-Attar as a brigade commander. It said both had been leading and coordinating fighting against Israel in the south of Gaza, where some of the most intense combat has occurred. Israel has lost 64 soldiers in the conflict, while three civilians in Israel have also been killed.</p> <p>At a news conference on Wednesday, Netanyahu declined to say whether Deif had been targeted, but said militant leaders were legitimate targets and that "none are immune" from attack.</p> <p><strong>No end in sight</strong></p> <p>Israel launched its offensive last month with the declared aim of curbing Palestinian rocket fire into its territory.</p> <p>After nearly four weeks of conflict, including ground operations by Israeli forces, Egyptian mediators succeeded in brokering a truce. But after 10 days of relative calm, that ceasefire was shattered on Tuesday, when Hamas launched more than 200 rockets into Israel, leading to Israeli air strikes.</p> <p>Rocket fire from Gaza continued on Thursday, with several landing in a kibbutz close to the border. Shrapnel from the blast seriously injured one Israeli and narrowly missed a kindergarten, Israel's ambulance service said.</p> <p><a href="">Egypt</a> said it would continue contacts with both sides, whose delegates left Cairo after hostilities resumed. Yet there appears to be little chance in the current circumstances of putting an end to fighting and making progress on peace talks.</p> <p>Netanyahu said fighting could go on for a long while.</p> <p>"This will be a continuous campaign," he told reporters.</p> <p>When it launched its initial assault, Israel said the aim was to put an end to Hamas rocket fire. Ten days later it sent ground forces in to destroy cross-border tunnels used by Hamas militants to launch surprise attacks on Israelis.</p> <p>More than 30 of those tunnels have been destroyed and no tunnel-based attacks have taken place in the past 10 days. Israel pulled its ground troops out of Gaza on Aug. 5.</p> <p>As well as the Hamas commanders killed, Palestinian medics reported 19 other deaths on Thursday, including three children.</p> <p>Hamas's military wing has threatened to target Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport and warned airlines to stay away on Thursday morning. Hamas said it had fired a rocket towards the airport, but an Israeli airport spokesman said there were no disruptions reported to Thursday's flight schedules.</p> <p>Israel says its main gateway is protected against Hamas's inaccurate rockets, many of which have been shot down by the Iron Dome missile interceptor.</p> <p>Hamas has said it will keep up its fight against Israel until the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted. Both countries view Hamas as a security threat and are reluctant to make sweeping concessions without Hamas downing its arms.</p> <p>The Egyptian-led peace talks had looked to be making some progress towards a relaxation of the blockade, but Israel wanted guarantees no weapons would enter the territory.</p> <p>Israel says it has killed hundreds of frontline Gaza militants in its campaign. The commanders targeted on Thursday were the most senior Hamas men killed since November 2012, when the assassination of military chief Ahmed al-Jaabari triggered an eight-day cross-border war.</p> <p>According to Shin Bet, Abu Shammala and al-Attar, were among those who planned and led the 2006 capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held in Gaza for five years until his release in return for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.</p> <p>(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Luke Baker)</p> Need to Know Israel and Palestine Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:45:14 +0000 Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell, Thomson Reuters 6237348 at Kremlin to Russians: No food? No problem <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Officials in Moscow are trying hard to reassure their compatriots that life will go on after many Western food imports have been banned. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Dan Peleschuk </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>MOSCOW, <a href="">Russia</a> — From fielding complaints online to harvesting wild reindeer, Russian officials are still trying to find ways to reassure consumers here that the Kremlin’s recent embargo on a wide array of Western food won’t hurt.</p> <p>President Vladimir Putin’s decree earlier this month banning agricultural, meat and dairy products for one year from countries that sanctioned Russia over its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine prompted at least some Russians to worry about price hikes, food deficits and an impending sense of international isolation.</p> <p>But the resounding message from on high has rung loud and clear: It’ll be okay.</p> <p>Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was among those who have moved to repeatedly assuage potential fears, claiming the ban won’t infringe on the domestic food market or hurt average consumers.</p> <p>“I would like to reiterate that, naturally, Russia had to take these reciprocal measures,” he said at a meeting with his deputies on Monday, the state news agency RIA Novosti reported.</p> <p>“I hope they will not last long.”</p> <p>Other top officials and public leaders have fallen in line. Anatoly Chubais, a onetime leading liberal reformer and now head of the state-owned nanotechnology company Rusnano, boasted on Tuesday he could “very well survive on buckwheat porridge,” the RBK Daily newspaper reported.</p> <p>Such sentiments have been accompanied by various efforts aimed at minimizing the negative impact of the embargo, which many observers paint as a heavy-handed retaliatory gesture that further isolates Russia from the global community.</p> <p>Officials in Russia’s far eastern Chukotka region said they would breed local reindeer to replace that region's usual imports of American meat, according to The Moscow Times.</p> <p>Medvedev on Wednesday also signed a decree that excludes from the banned items list salmon and trout hatchlings, as well as sweet corn and peas for planting, a move observers said is aimed at reducing pressure on local farmers. The measure also excludes lactose-free dairy products and a number of supplements.</p> <p>Officials in the world's fifth-largest recipient of agricultural imports have also taken measures to dampen potential discontent with the ban. The Federal Antimonopoly Service has even launched an internet hotline through which consumers can file complaints over what they believe might be unjustified price hikes.</p> <p>Those measures apparently couldn’t come soon enough.</p> <p>Officials in various Russian cities have already reported rising food costs, from 6 percent for processed meat in Moscow to a whopping 60 percent increase for chicken on the far eastern Sakhalin Island, the Kommersant daily newspaper reported.</p> <p>Critics at home and abroad have railed against the Kremlin’s knee-jerk response to sweeping Western sanctions, which have targeted Russian banks as well as the country’s defense and energy industries.</p> <p>Reactions on social networks — the virtual meeting place for much of Russia’s liberal intelligentsia — have so far been colored mostly with dark humor. One popular joke that’s made rounds online holds that “Russia imposed sanctions on itself.”</p> <p>But many others have argued the move is part of a broader trend of elite manipulation that harks back to the moral decay of the Soviet Union.</p> <p>“In strict hierarchical fashion, Communist Party bosses, celebrated actors, prominent artists, engineers and scientists would get their food in special distribution centers,” Maxim Trudolyubov, a liberal Russian newspaper editor, wrote in a New York Times op-ed last weekend.</p> <p>“Top officials lived in palazzos while the rank and file had to wait for years to get access to cramped spaces in prefabricated apartment blocs.”</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//" width="612"></iframe></p> <p>Still, there are also plenty of signs the Kremlin embargo will indeed hit its intended target, at least in part.</p> <p><a href="">Dutch</a> officials said Tuesday that their country stands to lose an estimated $400 million in agricultural exports compared to last year, Reuters reported.</p> <p>Other <a href="">European</a> farmers and businesses, some of which also send a fair chunk of their produce to Russia, fear the negative effects of oversupply on their domestic markets. The European Union has announced it would spend more than $160 million to help them weather the apparently crippling ban.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Russian officials appear at least outwardly calm about the future prospects for their country's own food market, even trumpeting the ban as a way to stimulate domestic food production.</p> <p>Alexei Nemeryuk, head of the Department of Trade and Services for the city of Moscow, says food prices in the capital will probably continue to rise through the end of the year.</p> <p>But he dismissed suggestions that ordinary Russians will suffer from a deficit of food on the domestic market, claiming that “more than 100 companies in <a href="">Latin America</a> are prepared to supply us with meat and fish,” local news agencies reported him as saying.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">Britain searching for Foley killer</a></strong></p> <p>Other officials have appealed to Russians’ most cherished culinary traditions in a bid to soothe potential concerns.</p> <p>Ilya Shestakov, head of the Federal Fishery Agency, said herring and red caviar — longtime favorites for feasts and other special occasions — would not disappear from the table during New Year's, the most popular holiday in Russia.</p> <p>“Of course, the assortment on store shelves will change a bit, but there’s no need to be afraid,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “On the contrary, it should be welcomed.”</p> Russian food ban Want to Know Global Economy Russia Thu, 21 Aug 2014 05:01:00 +0000 Dan Peleschuk 6236624 at Clashes between Ukrainian forces and separatists kill 43 civilians <!--paging_filter--><p>Fierce fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels left dozens of civilians dead on Wednesday as Ukrainian troops pushed on with a bloody offensive to break the insurgency in the east of the country.</p> <p>Deadly battles to crush the ailing rebellion appeared to intensify ahead of a fresh round of diplomatic haggling that will see the presidents of <a href="">Russia</a> and Ukraine sit down next week for their first meeting in months.</p> <p>Clashes near Donetsk, one of the two separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine, have killed 43 civilians since Tuesday, regional authorities said.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">Ukraine cobbles together an army as fears of a Russian invasion grow</a></strong></p> <p>In the city of Makiyivka, adjoining the main rebel bastion Donetsk, residents were woken up by shelling in the early hours of Wednesday.</p> <p>"What bastards," said local 81-year-old Maria Semyonovna, who said she was planning to go out in the morning but was stopped by sounds of explosions.</p> <p>"We are at home here and they are bombing us," she told AFP. "When is it going to stop? Where can one go?"</p> <p>The clashes also killed nine servicemen overnight, said security spokesman Andriy Lysenko.</p> <p>The renewed offensive comes as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gears up for talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin next week over how to end the conflict, which has killed about 2,200 people over the past four months.</p> <p>Poroshenko this week said the army was regrouping to continue its push on the separatist hubs of Donetsk and Lugansk and to fragment the rebel-held territory to stop the flow of weapons from Russia.</p> <p>"Both (Kyiv and Moscow) are trying to improve their starting positions," said political analyst Oleksiy Golubutskyi. "If Ukraine manages to gain control over Lugansk or even Donetsk before these talks, then the issue of demilitarizing them disappears."</p> <p><strong>'Russian' convoy</strong></p> <p>Ukraine's National Guard said it had wrested back control over on the town of Ilovaysk, a key railway hub some 30 miles east of Donetsk.</p> <p>In besieged Donetsk, authorities said water supplies had been restored after fighting cut power to a filtering station over the weekend.</p> <p>Kyiv claims Moscow is ratcheting up arms flows to help the separatists as Ukrainian forces have pushed deeper into dwindling rebel territory.</p> <p>Western powers also fear Putin could be preparing to send in the 20,000 troops NATO says he has massed on the border as a last role of the dice.</p> <p>A Ukrainian military spokesman could not confirm claims from a commander in the field Tuesday that a massive convoy of Russian armor entered the second-largest insurgent city of Lugansk.</p> <p>Ukrainian forces have said they have pushed deep into Lugansk over the past few days in what could be a major breakthrough if confirmed.</p> <p>The head of Kyiv's military operations around the city told local television that tanks, Grad rocket launchers, artillery and armoured vehicles were seen entering the city after crossing over from Russia.</p> <p>"It had about 1,200 people, wearing Russian uniforms," commander Igor Voronchenko told channel.</p> <p>Security officials in Kyiv, however, said they had no information about the convoy in Lugansk, a city where residents have endured over two weeks without water and food and authorities have warned of possible infectuous epidemics.</p> <p>Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko at the weekend boasted his troops had received 1,200 fighters trained in Russia along with heavy equipment, but Moscow has flatly denied it has sent any support across the frontier.</p> <p><strong>Aid still stuck</strong></p> <p>The West has accused Moscow of helping out the rebels and NATO leadership on Monday said Russia was "resorting to a hybrid war," which included "secret commandos and smuggled missiles."</p> <p>Nearly 300 Russian lorries with humanitarian aid have remained parked up for almost a week not far from the border with Ukraine's war-torn Lugansk region as haggling continues over letting them cross.</p> <p>Kyiv fears that the convoy may be attacked on rebel territory and further destabilize the situation giving Moscow a pretext for invasion.</p> <p>The Russian foreign ministry said Wednesday that Moscow agreed with the Red Cross that the sides were ready for the convoy to "begin movement" and that a group of Red Cross officials had already departed "to move along its supposed route."</p> <p>A Red Cross representative at the border crossing Galina Balzamova however told AFP that she has "no information on the advance team going to Ukraine."</p> Need to Know Conflict Zones Europe Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:52:43 +0000 Agence France-Presse 6236687 at Foley execution boosts European support for intervention in Iraq <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A video of the American journalist’s beheading by Islamist militants appears to be having the opposite of its intended effect. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jason Overdorf </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BERLIN, Germany &mdash; European leaders reacted to the execution of an American journalist with shock and horror Wednesday.</p> <p>A spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel <a href="">said</a> she was &ldquo;horrified&rdquo; by the video depicting James Foley&#39;s beheading by members of the militant group Islamic State, or IS, released on YouTube on Tuesday.</p> <p>Foley was freelancing for GlobalPost and other outlets in Syria when he disappeared nearly two years ago.</p> <p>The German government extended its &ldquo;deepest sympathies&rdquo; to the Foley family, spokesman Steffen Seibert said Wednesday.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is a barbaric act that plays on fear,&rdquo; spokesman for the French government Stephane Le Foll <a href="">told</a> reporters.</p> <p>Far from intimidating European leaders, however, Foley&#39;s beheading appears to be galvanizing support for military intervention in Iraq, with France, Germany and Italy deepening their commitment to supporting Kurdish rebels fighting IS.</p> <p>&quot;I think we are in the most serious international situation since 2001. ... I will therefore propose an initiative on security in Iraq and the fight against Islamic State, from September,&quot; French President Francois Hollande <a href="">told</a> Le Monde.</p> <p>German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier <a href="">said</a> Germany can now &ldquo;imagine providing further equipment, including weapons&rdquo; to Kurdish forces &mdash; doubling down on a commitment to provide non-lethal military supplies that was already seen as a departure from Germany&#39;s usual reluctance to engage in foreign conflicts.</p> <p>A similar commitment came from Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who made a one-day visit to Iraq on Wednesday.</p> <p>&quot;Europe must be in places like Iraq where democracy is endangered,&quot; he said in Baghdad.</p> <p>Italy is prepared to provide light arms and ammunition for self-defense, as well as logistical support for weapons supplies, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said.</p> <p>However, Germany&rsquo;s reaction is perhaps the most significant.</p> <p>Although Steinmeier and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen have been <a href="">pushing</a> for greater involvement in the fight against IS for the past week, a recent poll conducted by the Forsa Institute before Foley&#39;s execution suggested that only one in three Germans favored weapons deliveries.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost:&nbsp;<a href="">Britain searching for Foley killer</a></strong></p> <p>Judging from the emotions expressed by ordinary Germans and in the German media, however, that could be set to change.</p> <p>&ldquo;At the moment Germans see ISIS as a barbaric, terroristic warrior tribe, in a way, shedding blood everywhere,&rdquo; said Alexander Buehler, a German reporter who has covered the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria. He was referring to IS by one of its previous names.</p> <p>In an uncharacteristic editorial for the German press, the deputy editor of Die Welt <a href=" ">called</a> Foley&#39;s execution &ldquo;a declaration of war on Western civilization,&rdquo; and called not only for Germany to aid in the fight against IS but also for the institution of sanctions against countries that allegedly provide them with financial support, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.</p> james foley Need to Know Conflict Zones Europe Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:24:00 +0000 Jason Overdorf 6236584 at Britain searching for Foley killer <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Identifying the American journalist’s executioner will be difficult, but even the tiniest clues may prove helpful. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Corinne Purtill </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>LONDON, <a href="">UK</a> — Who is the man standing next to James Foley in the video that shows the final moments of his life?</p> <p>UK security and intelligence agencies have been working feverishly to unravel that question since video emerged of a masked man with a distinctly British accent beheading the 40-year-old American journalist. He was freelancing in <a href="">Syria</a> for GlobalPost and other publications when he disappeared nearly two years ago.</p> <p>“We're very concerned by the apparent fact that the murderer in question is British and we are urgently investigating,” Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC.</p> <p>“Agencies on both sides of the Atlantic are first of all looking to authenticate the video to make sure that it is genuine — and sadly it appears to be — and then to see if we can identify the individual in question."</p> <p>National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden <a href="">announced</a> on Wednesday morning that intelligence officials had "reached the judgment that this video is authentic."</p> <p>In remarks delivered shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, <a href="" target="_blank">President Barack Obama said</a> the "entire world is appalled by the beheading of journalist James Foley" and said the <a href="">United States</a> will do whatever is needed to pursue "justice."</p> <p>Linguistic experts have tied the accent of the man who appeared to have killed Foley to London or southern England. However, experts say he may have picked it up from an English teacher or international school and not necessarily be British born or bred.</p> <p>Nevertheless, British foreign fighters in Syria supporting the Islamic State, or IS, the group that executed Foley, were eager to claim him as their own.</p> <p>“Beheaded by a British brother! What an honour!” wrote a foreign fighter from Manchester who tweets under the handle Qaqa Biritani. “What a beautiful message to America!”</p> <p>An estimated 400 Britons have traveled to Syria to take part in the conflict there. While authorities may learn more about the group or circumstances behind Foley’s death, identifying the masked man who appeared next to him will be a difficult task, experts say.</p> <p>Although the video has probably been scrubbed of much of the geotagging and metadata that could help investigators, even the smallest clues can prove vital in investigations such as these.</p> <p>US intelligence officials identified Khalid Sheikh Muhammed as the killer of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl partly because of a distinctive Y-shaped vein on his right hand visible in the video of Pearl’s decapitation.</p> <p>The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London has done extensive work analyzing the videos, social media posts and other internet droppings of foreign fighters in Syria.</p> <p>Almost always, there are tiny clues that investigators can seize upon to tease out an identity — eye color, a codename, a few careless tweets.</p> <p>“In this video there’s none of that,” said Joseph Carter, a research fellow at the ICSR.</p> <p>Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his holiday on the English coast on Wednesday to return to Westminster for emergency meetings on the IS threat.</p> <p>Police counterterrorism investigators are working on the case now, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.</p> <p>Police are also looking for people sharing the video or images from it online. Simply viewing or possessing extremist propaganda is a criminal offense under British law.</p> <p>The video of Foley’s death appeared carefully calibrated to send a specific message to the US, terror experts said.</p> <p>“In the video, they don’t claim that he’s a spy, they don’t claim he fought against Islam, they just say: we are sending a message to you,” Carter said. “It’s a very symbolic act, which is what terrorism is really about.”</p> <p>The apparent killer’s British accent is no accident. It’s a political jab at the West that the Islamic State is recruiting its own, said Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.</p> <p>And the choice to film the beheading on a sweeping desert landscape sends a definitive signal to its intended US audience in the wake of their involvement in <a href="">Iraq</a> — that this land belongs to us, says Patrick Skinner, a former CIA officer who is director of special projects at the Soufan Group, a consulting firm in New York.</p> <p>“That was the first thing I noticed: Wow, they are doing this in the daytime, in the open. They are not afraid,” he said.</p> <p>It’s impossible to know how many of Foley’s 635 days in captivity were spent in IS’ control, Skinner added.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="">Foley beheading video followed prior threat</a></strong></p> <p>Militants have been trading, purchasing and abducting Western hostages from other groups. Some hostages, particularly Europeans, are held for ransom. Others, like Foley, are kidnapped for their strategic or symbolic value.</p> <p>In the end, Foley had the terrible luck to be an American in IS hands just at a moment when the group wanted to send a message to the US.</p> <p>“This was not about revenue,” Skinner says. “They needed this statement more than they needed any amount of money. It’s tragic, but there is nothing that could have saved him.” </p> james foley Need to Know Conflict Zones United Kingdom Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:59:00 +0000 Corinne Purtill 6236551 at Aid airlift to northern Iraq has started, UN says <!--paging_filter--><p>A humanitarian airlift to northern <a href="">Iraq</a> began on Wednesday, kicking off a 10-day operation to provide tents and other aid to half a million displaced people who are struggling for survival, the United Nations' refugee agency UNHCR said.</p> <p>A cargo plane from <a href="">Jordan</a> touched down in Arbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, carrying 100 tonnes of emergency supplies including plastic sheeting for shelter, kitchen sets and jerry cans, the agency said in a statement.</p> <p>Three more flights are planned in coming days and aid is also on its way by road and sea, with 175 trucks scheduled to arrive via <a href="">Turkey</a>, Jordan and <a href="">Iran</a>, it said. Some 2,410 tonnes of supplies are to be delivered between now and the start of September.</p> <p>"This is a massive logistics operation ... to help the hundreds of thousands of desperate people who have fled suddenly with nothing but their lives and are now struggling to survive in harsh conditions," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.</p> <p>Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes since the militant Islamic State group swept through much of the north and west of Iraq in June, threatening to break up the country.</p> <p>Iraq's escalating crisis means that the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq is now hosting more than 600,000 internally displaced civilians, including more than 200,000 people who fled the Sinjar area since early August, the UNHCR said. Many are living in unfinished buildings, parks or by the roadside.</p> <p>In all, an estimated 1.2 million people have been uprooted in Iraq so far this year, including half a million in the western Anbar region, it said.</p> <p>(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Gareth Jones) </p> Need to Know Iraq Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:34:56 +0000 Thomson Reuters 6236461 at Gaza war rages on, Hamas says Israel tried to kill its military chief <!--paging_filter--><p>An Israeli air strike in Gaza killed the wife and infant son of Hamas's military leader, Mohammed Deif, the group said, calling it an attempt to assassinate him after a ceasefire collapsed.</p> <p>Palestinians launched more than 100 rockets, mainly at southern Israel, with some intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, the military said. No casualties were reported on the Israeli side.</p> <p><a href="">Egypt</a>, which has been trying to broker a long-term ceasefire in indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks, said it would continue contacts with both sides, whose delegates left Cairo after hostilities resumed on Tuesday.</p> <p>But there appeared to be no end in sight to violence that shattered a 10-day period of calm, the longest break from fighting since Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8 with the declared aim of ending rocket fire into its territory.</p> <p>Israeli aircraft have carried out 80 strikes in the Gaza Strip since Tuesday, "targeting terror sites," the military said.</p> <p>Hamas and medical officials said 19 people died in the latest Israeli raids, including Deif's wife and seven-month-old son. Deif is widely believed to be masterminding the Islamist group's military campaign from underground bunkers.</p> <div style="background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Helvetica Neue',Arial,sans-serif;color:#a7a7a7;font-size:11px;width:100%;max-width:594px;min-width:300px;"> <div style="overflow:hidden;position:relative;height:0;padding:64.478114% 0 0 0;width:100%;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="383" scrolling="no" src="//;sig=VtfbK875Oo28EGTNKO7pk1CAAJ0k4QGy-PjXCTwj3_4=" style="display:inline-block;position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" width="594"></iframe></div> <p style="margin:0;"> </p> <div style="padding:0;margin:0 0 0 10px;text-align:left;"> <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank">#453844484</a> / <a href="" style="color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;" target="_blank"></a></div> </div> <p>A Hamas official said Deif had not used the targeted house, where the bodies of three members of the family that lived there were also pulled out of the rubble.</p> <p>Accusing Israel of opening a "gateway to hell," Hamas fired rockets at <a href="">Tel Aviv</a> and Jerusalem late on Tuesday, demonstrating the Islamist movement could still reach Israel's heartland despite heavy Israeli bombardments in the five-week-old conflict.</p> <p>There was no official confirmation from Israel that it had tried to kill Deif, who has been targeted in air strikes at least four times since the mid-1990s. Israel holds him responsible for the deaths of dozens of its citizens in suicide bombings.</p> <p>"I am convinced that if there was intelligence that Mohammed Deif was not inside the home, then we would not have bombed it," Yaakov Perry, Israel's science minister and former security chief, told Army Radio.</p> <p>Israeli police minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet, due to convene later on Wednesday, told reporters: "We will continue to hit the heads of Hamas."</p> <p>Five children were killed in separate air strikes, according to Gaza health officials, and the Israeli military said it targeted two gunmen in northern Gaza.</p> <p>The Palestinian Health Ministry says 2,036 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Gaza. Israel says it has killed hundreds of Palestinian militants in fighting that the United Nations says has displaced about 425,000 people.</p> <p>Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have also been killed in the most deadly and destructive war Hamas and Israel have fought since Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005, before Hamas seized the territory in 2007.</p> <p><strong>Talks end</strong></p> <p>Accusing Hamas of breaking the truce with rocket fire eight hours before it was to have expired, Israel recalled its negotiators from truce talks in Cairo on Tuesday, leaving the fate of the Egyptian-brokered efforts hanging in the balance.</p> <p>Palestinian negotiators walked out of the talks later, blaming Israel for their failure. "Israel thwarted the contacts that could have brought peace," chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed said.</p> <p>Rejecting the charge, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Gaza rocket fire "made continuation of talks impossible".</p> <p>"The Cairo process was built on a total and complete cessation of all hostilities and so when rockets were fired from Gaza, not only was it a clear violation of the ceasefire but it also destroyed the premise upon which the talks were based," Regev told Reuters.</p> <p>Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party took part in the Cairo talks, was due to meet the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Doha on Wednesday, diplomatic sources said.</p> <p>Israel instructed its civilians to open bomb shelters as far as 80 km (50 miles) from Gaza, or beyond the Tel Aviv area, and the military called up 2,000 reservists.</p> <div> <p>United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the breach of the ceasefire, saying in a statement he was "gravely disappointed by the return to hostilities" and urging the sides not to allow matters to escalate.</p> <p>Egyptian mediators have been struggling to end the Gaza conflict and seal a deal that would open the way for reconstruction aid to flow into the territory of 1.8 million people, where thousands of homes have been destroyed.</p> <p>The Palestinians want Egypt and Israel to lift their blockades of the economically crippled Gaza Strip that predated the Israeli offensive.</p> <p>Israel, like Egypt, views Hamas as a security threat and wants guarantees that any removal of border restrictions will not result in militant groups obtaining weapons.</p> <p>A senior Palestinian official in Gaza said sticking points to an agreement have been Hamas's demands to build a seaport and an airport, which Israel wants to discuss only at a later stage.</p> <p>Israel has called for the disarming of militant groups in the enclave. Hamas has said that laying down its weapons is not an option, saying it will pursue its armed struggle until Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands ends.</p> <p>Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in 1967. The Palestinians want Gaza and the West Bank for an independent state with its capital in East Jerusalem.</p> <p>(Additional reporting by Maggie Fick and Stephen Kalin in Cairo; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Andrew Heavens)</p> </div> Need to Know Israel and Palestine Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:33:00 +0000 Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell, Thomson Reuters 6236359 at How China’s spin doctors botched the Yunnan quake response <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> It turns out eating muddy noodles isn’t very macho — or smart. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Robert Foyle Hunwick </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BEIJING &mdash; What do a 23-year-old socialite and a bowl of muddy noodles have to do with China&rsquo;s worst natural disaster this year?</p> <p>Nothing, usually. Even so, the 6.5-magnitude earthquake that shook the remote southern Yunnan town of Ludian (population: 429,000) on Aug. 4, killing 615 and injuring 3,143, inadvertently exposed fault lines beneath the official narrative of national tragedy.</p> <p>The narrative starts back in 2011 when a tin-eared drama student, calling herself &quot;Guo Meimei&quot; &mdash; translation: &quot;Guo Pretty Pretty&quot; &mdash; was propelled to web infamy by flaunting her posh lifestyle on Weibo, China&rsquo;s version of Twitter.</p> <p>But profile pictures of Guo, draped next to a Maserati, boasting the title &ldquo;General Commercial Manager&rdquo; of a Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) affiliate, lit a fire that has never ceased to smolder.</p> <p>Unlike in other countries, China&rsquo;s Red Cross exists under the aegis of its central government, rather than the International Red Cross. The young woman&rsquo;s error of judgment thus metastasized into a national outcry over distribution of public funds.</p> <p>In truth, no link was ever proved between RCSC and Guo, though that hardly mattered: The socialite remained a cancer on the country&rsquo;s largest charity. In 2012, the RCSC saw donations drop to 10 percent of levels in 2008, when the 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Ya&rsquo;an city, Sichuan, had stirred global sympathy.</p> <p>It was among these charitable doldrums on Aug. 4, when the 6.5 hit the mountainous area south of Sichuan, that emergency services were mobilized to the breaking story &mdash; along with the Communist Party&rsquo;s image crafters.</p> <p>Official mouthpieces such as China Central Television, Xinhua and People&rsquo;s Daily dropped coordinated footage, commentary, verse and scripture about Guo Meimei, in either a bungling attempt to absolve the Red Cross for emergency donations or simply a case of terrible timing.</p> <p>The law&rsquo;s capricious gaze had swiveled at an unusually stately gait &mdash; it took three years, in Guo&rsquo;s case. <a href="">Arrested amid mild fanfare</a> in July for gambling, citizens learned that the inexplicably wealthy Guo, now a familiar sight in furs who&rsquo;d somehow survived the RCSC disaster and <a href="">even prospered</a>, was now in prison orange and <a href="">confessing</a> to a growing litany of transgression: from gambling on World Cup games and online poker to fabricating gossip and accepting ludicrous sums for sex (&ldquo;never less than 100,000 yuan ($17,400)&rdquo;).</p> <p>On air, and prior to any criminal trial, Guo also admitted having &ldquo;seriously destroyed the reputation of the RCSC.&rdquo; That might be routine work for a National Enquirer or Daily Mail columnist, but in China it&rsquo;s illegal. That day&rsquo;s late-night CCTV newscast dedicated nearly 20 minutes to the tale, after giving Ludian its due 10-minute lead.&nbsp;</p> <p>The <a href="">details were </a>unbeatable; the timing unconscionable.</p> <p>The onslaught, coordinated by three major state outlets to deliver 144-character-sized revelations over several hours, appeared to have been so meticulously planned that stopping it would seem to demand a presidential order. In the end, it took a <a href="">propagandist one</a>.</p> <p>Some were <a href="">swift to acknowledge</a> what transpired as a rare goof in the PR machine at a time of national tragedy. The majority seemed either non-swayed or merely dismayed: &ldquo;No matter what the Red Cross says, I will never donate money to them,&rdquo; one Weibo commentator said. &nbsp;</p> <p>Yet the apathy may have bled into a blunder involving a far more sensitive organization: the People&rsquo;s Liberation Army (PLA).</p> <p>Catastrophic damage to lives and livelihoods can be irreparable after a quake. Traditionally in natural crises, the PLA has swung into action, as rescuer, unifier and public relations ambassador.</p> <p>The mobilization in Yunnan this month evoked their hardscrabble response.</p> <p>With roads and routes devastated by the quake, the closest troops responded almost immediately, converging on the scene by foot. Many infantry units marched for 22 hours straight. No one asked why an earthquake-prone mountainous region like Yunnan wasn&rsquo;t battle-ready for helicopter search and rescue teams, food drops, airlifts and evacuations.</p> <p>&ldquo;Chinese media don&#39;t care so much about the victims,&rdquo; says Zhao Chu, an independent Shanghai-based military commentator. &ldquo;They pay a lot of attention to setting up promotable propaganda images. &hellip; Except they screwed it up this time.&rdquo;</p> <p>Acts of civic commemoration would be marginalized, even quashed. Organizers of one candlelit vigil, planned for Ludian&rsquo;s central Bayi Square four days after the tragedy, were ordered to disperse or risk arrest. &ldquo;The pressure on security maintenance is high,&rdquo; one official was overheard explaining, according to a Jiangxi TV station. The country was in the midst of a &ldquo;sensitive period.&rdquo;</p> <p><a href="">Official photos</a> told a tale that could have been lifted from the fictional diaries of mythical recruit Lei Feng: Wholesome troops, hungry from the long march to the crisis zone, gratefully chowed instant noodles cooked in muddy local water &mdash; &ldquo;since fresh water was rationed only to the injured.&rdquo;</p> <p>Displays of brick-bashing machismo have, <a href="">until recently</a>, been a staple of PLA showmanship. But it turns out that contemporary Chinese don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s particularly smart for their soldiers to eat mud.</p> <p>China National Radio (CNR) and Global Times (GT) faced a barrage: Why did the country&rsquo;s soldiers not have the necessary filtration equipment or provisions? What were their health risks? Where was the vast military budget being spent?</p> <p>Sensing blood, the tabloid GT disavowed the report in a fresh article affecting outrage at the &ldquo;harming of soldiers&#39; spirits.&rdquo; &ldquo;They&rsquo;ll always try to use water that is clean,&rdquo; the paper quoted an unnamed army officer as saying.</p> <p>For its part, CNR&rsquo;s footage showed <a href="">its own reporters</a> had supped from the muddy meal. &ldquo;It becomes a game for the government: either choose to admit it&rsquo;s a fake story, or allow the public to dig deeper,&rdquo; Zhao said.</p> <p>Senior GT online editor Hao Junshi chose the former, apologizing on Weibo, albeit explaining that <em>both</em> stories were, in fact, partly fictional. The soldiers had eschewed their own fresh, filtered supply of water in order to show solidarity with quake victims, or so <a href="">Hao suggested</a>.</p> <p>In times of crisis, the truth can end up like that water story: never simple, and rarely pure.</p> Want to Know Emerging Markets China Wed, 20 Aug 2014 04:51:35 +0000 Robert Foyle Hunwick 6232830 at Statement by the family of James Foley on his reported killing <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 'We have never been prouder of our son and brother Jim.' </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Lizzy Tomei </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p style="">BOSTON, Mass. — The family of journalist James Foley, whom the <a href="" target="_blank">Islamic State claimed on Tuesday to have executed</a>, released a statement on Tuesday evening about his apparent death.</p> <p style="">The family said they wanted to send a message to the thousands of people around the world who have reached out to them in sympathy and support since video purporting to show Jim's execution surfaced on social media.</p> <p style="">"We have never been prouder of our son and brother Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in <a href="">Iraq</a>, <a href="">Syria</a> or anywhere in the world," the family wrote.</p> <p style="">"We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim."</p> <p style="">The Foley family has not received confirmation of Jim's death from the US government, and acknowledged that there is still a small chance the video of his apparent killing will prove to have been fake.</p> Need to Know Syria War Wed, 20 Aug 2014 02:58:00 +0000 Lizzy Tomei 6235875 at Foley beheading video followed prior threat <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The American intelligence community says the video is authentic. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Lizzy Tomei </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p><em><span class="message_content">This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.</span></em></p> <p>BOSTON, Mass. &mdash; The extremist Islamic State claims to have executed journalist James Foley, who has been missing since November 2012 when he was kidnapped while reporting in Syria.</p> <p>Video of Foley depicting his beheading was uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday afternoon and later removed. The FBI on Wednesday morning told the Foley family they believed the video was authentic, but were&nbsp;continuing a longer process of official authentication.</p> <p>Shortly thereafter,&nbsp;National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden <a href="">announced</a> that&nbsp;&ldquo;the US Intelligence Community&quot; had &quot;reached the judgment that this video is authentic.&quot;</p> <p>In remarks delivered shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, <a href="" target="_blank">President Barack Obama said</a> the world is &quot;appalled by the beheading of journalist James Foley&quot; and said the United States will do whatever is needed to pursue &quot;justice.&quot;</p> <p>The video appeared following a threat made last week, GlobalPost CEO Phil Balboni <a href="" target="_blank">told NBC</a> on Wednesday.</p> <p>The video asserts that the killing of Foley is in retaliation for recent airstrikes by the United States against IS militants in northern Iraq. In it, Foley, kneeling next to an apparent IS militant, makes comments against the US for its actions. The militant also shows on camera journalist Steven Joel Sotloff, who went missing in Syria a year ago, and issues a direct challenge to President Obama that Sotloff&#39;s fate will depend on the president&#39;s &quot;next move.&quot;</p> <p>As of 7 a.m. local time on Wednesday, Foley&#39;s family in New Hampshire had no confirmation from the US government of Jim&#39;s death. Late on Tuesday evening the family acknowledged there was a small chance the video may still prove to be fake, but nonetheless released the following statement:</p> <p>&quot;We have never been prouder of our son and brother Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.</p> <p> &quot;We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.&quot;</p> <p>Earlier Tuesday, Philip Balboni, GlobalPost CEO and co-founder, made the following statement: &quot;On behalf of John and Diane Foley, and also GlobalPost, we deeply appreciate all of the messages of sympathy and support that have poured in since the news of Jim&rsquo;s possible execution first broke. We have been informed that the FBI is in the process of evaluating the video posted by the Islamic State to determine if it is authentic. ... We ask for your prayers for Jim and his family.&quot;</p> <p>In the video purporting to show Foley&#39;s beheading, the militant next to him speaks with a British accent. The press office for UK Prime Minister David Cameron issued the following statement early Wednesday: &quot;If true, the brutal murder of James Foley is shocking and depraved. The Prime Minister is returning to Downing Street this morning. He will meet with the Foreign Secretary and senior officials from the Home Office, Foreign Office and the agencies to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) terrorists.&quot;</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="" target="_blank">Britain is searching for Foley killer</a></strong></p> <p>GlobalPost, for whom Foley had reported in Syria, mounted an extensive international investigation from November 2012 to determine who kidnapped Foley and where he was being held. Significant research was undertaken throughout the Middle East, including along the Syria-Turkish border, in Lebanon, in Jordan and in other locations.</p> <p>&ldquo;Although GlobalPost&rsquo;s investigation at one point led us to believe that James was being held by the Syrian government, we later were given strong reason to believe he was being held by Islamic militants in Syria,&quot; Balboni said. &quot;We withheld this information at the request of the family and on the advice of authorities cooperating in the effort to protect Jim. GlobalPost, working with a private security company, has amassed an enormous amount of information that has not been made public.&rdquo;</p> <p>Foley was on a freelance assignment for GlobalPost when he was abducted in northern Syria on Nov. 22, 2012. He was on his way to the Turkish border when he was stopped by a group of armed men. Foley reported for GlobalPost from <a href="" target="_blank">Libya</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Afghanistan</a> before traveling to <a href="" target="_blank">Syria</a> in the early days of the now long-running civil war that has taken the lives of more than 170,000.</p> <p>Foley&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank">last article</a> for GlobalPost detailed the growing frustration with the war among civilians in Aleppo.</p> <p>The fact of Foley&rsquo;s kidnapping was revealed publicly for the first time by his parents, John and Diane Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire, on Jan. 1, 2012, two months after his abduction. The only other American whose identity has been publicly revealed is Austin Tice, a freelance reporter for the McClatchy News Service and the Washington Post, who was kidnapped in August 2012.</p> <p>While covering the Libyan civil war in 2011, Foley and two other journalists, American Claire Gillis and Spaniard Manu Brabo, endured a <a href="" target="_blank">44-day captivity</a> in April and May of that year at the hands of then Libyan strongman Col. Muammar Gaddafi. A fourth journalist, South African Anton Hammerl, was killed when the journalists were captured by Gaddafi fighters near Benghazi in eastern Libya. Foley later returned to Libya to cover <a href="" target="_blank">Gaddafi&rsquo;s fall and eventual death</a>. Foley and GlobalPost correspondent Tracey Shelton were at the scene of Gaddafi&rsquo;s capture in October 2011.</p> Need to Know Syria War Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:17:00 +0000 Lizzy Tomei 6235645 at