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Purveyor

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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 29,876

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Deadly Clashes Between Iraqi Forces and Tribal Fighters in Anbar

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/world/middleeast

By YASIR GHAZI
Published: December 30, 2013

BAGHDAD — Heavy fighting erupted on Monday between government security forces and tribal gunmen when the police moved to dismantle a Sunni protesters’ camp in Ramadi, west of Baghdad in Anbar Province, police and local officials said. At least 17 people died in the clashes, according to a security official.

Battles also broke out in other parts of the province, including Falluja. The security official, who asked not to be named, said that 12 civilians were killed and 26 were wounded in fighting in Ramadi and Hit, a nearby city. In Falluja, the official said, five soldiers were killed and 15 people were wounded.

In scenes reminiscent of 2005, when Anbar was under the control of militants, tribal fighters in Ramadi deployed two tanks and seven Humvees they had seized from the military.

“We will not kneel to the army of Maliki — he should know that dealing with the people of Anbar is no picnic,” a tribal fighter in Ramadi said, referring to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq. “He thought that he can deceive the world by fighting Al Qaeda, but in reality he is fighting the Sunnis.”

Read more: New York Times

Health Reform Gap: 5 Million Without Health Care In States That Opted Out

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — About 5 million people will be without health care next year that they would have gotten simply if they lived somewhere else in America.

They make up a coverage gap in President Barack Obama's signature health care law created by the domino effects of last year's Supreme Court ruling and states' subsequent policy decisions.

The court effectively left it up to states to decide whether to open Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and disabled, to more people, primarily poor working adults without children.

Twenty-five states declined. That leaves 4.8 million people in those states without the health care coverage that their peers elsewhere are getting through the expansion of Medicaid, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation estimate. More than one-fifth of them live in Texas alone, Kaiser's analysis found.

Among those in the gap is Cheryl Jones, a 61-year-old part-time home-care worker from Erie, Pa., who makes do without health insurance by splitting in half pills for high blood pressure, which she gets from a friend, not a pharmacist. She'd also like to visit a dentist to fix her broken partial dentures. A new pair of glasses might be nice, too.

MORE...

http://www.oregonlive.com/today/index.ssf/2013/12/health_reform_gap_5_million_wi.html

U.S. Cracks Open Skies To Testing, Use Of Aerial Drones

Source: REUTERS

By Alwyn Scott

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. aviation regulator took a step toward opening the skies to aerial drones on Monday, authorizing six sites where unmanned aircraft can be tested for a variety of uses.

The Federal Aviation Administration already has approved limited use of drones in the U.S. for law enforcement, surveillance, atmospheric research and other applications.

But Monday's move will give companies, universities and other entities locations at which to test much broader use, such as crop spraying, catching exotic-animal poachers or delivering packages.

"It provides the platform for this research to be carried out on a very large scale across the country," Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta told reporters.

Read more: http://wkzo.com/news/articles/2013/dec/30/us-aviation-regulator-names-sites-for-unmanned-aircraft-tests/

Pending Home Sales Tick Up In November, First Time In Five Months

Source: Forbes

The nation’s pending home sales nosed up 0.2% in November, ending five straight months of decline, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

NAR’s’ Pending Home Sales Index scooted to 101.7 in November, above October’s (revised downward) 101.5 level. NAR and others blamed October’s weak figures in part on the government shutdown. But the real problem is rising home prices and mortgage rates, which continue to affect the latest numbers. November’s figure is still 1.6% percent below the pending home sales figure one year earlier, in November 2012.Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement that the market is flattening. “We may have reached a cyclical low because the positive fundamentals of job creation and household formation are likely to foster a fairly stable level of contract activity in 2014,” he said. “Although the final months of 2013 are finishing on a soft note, the year as a whole will end with the best sales total in seven years.”

The Pending Home Sales Index measures housing activity based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos and co-ops (not new development). Because it tracks contracts signed, not sales closed, it is considered a more up-to-the-moment indicator than the NAR’s Existing Homes Sales index, which track closings. (Most closings take four to six weeks.) Existing home sales fell in November for the 3rd straight month, but given the uptick in contracts signed, should rise again down the road.

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2013/12/30/pending-home-sales-tick-up-in-november-first-time-in-five-months/

Hundreds Of African Migrants Rally In Israel Demanding Legal Status

Hundreds of illegal African migrants flooded Tel Aviv streets on Saturday night in a ‘March for Freedom’ to demand legal refugee status from the Israeli government and to protest tough immigration laws.

The migrants, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, were carrying candles and chanting slogans like "freedom” or "we are refugees." Some protesters held signs with their detention numbers, others with the word "shame", referring to the latest government's policy towards asylum seekers.

The march was held to demand Israeli authorities recognize asylum seekers from Africa as legal refugees, and to protest the government policy of holding several hundred Africans in detention facilities near Israel's border with Egypt, which opened just last month.

"If we go back we will die or be put in jail. I want freedom. And Israel needs to let us be free,” a refugee from Eritrea said, reports Haaretz.

The demonstrators were supported by many human rights groups and other Israeli activists who held up posters saying "their freedom, our democracy!"

MORE...

http://rt.com/news/african-migrants-israel-protest-931/

Suspected 'Cop Killer' Bank Robber Had Threatened President

Source: ABC NEWS

The man suspected in a spree of bank robberies and the killing of a police officer in Tupelo, Miss., was arrested in 2010 for allegedly threatening to kill President Obama and his predecessors, a federal law enforcement official told ABC News.

Authorities today identified the suspect, who was killed Saturday in a shootout with police outside a Phoenix, Ariz., bank, as Mario Edward Garnett, 40.

An indictment said that in August 2010 Garnett allegedly posted a message to the White House website, saying among other things: "if you order a strike on Iran, I'm going to come up there and blow your brains out on national TV. You scheming hypocrite ... Netanyahu is a dead man. Damn Israel."

Six days later, he allegedly posted another message, saying: "I'm going to settle some scores on behalf of Israel and America's victims on behalf of those they continue to oppress. I'll kill president and farmer alike. You are either worth something or you are chaff."

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/suspected-cop-killer-bank-robber-threatened-president/story?id=21360320

Republicans Eye Paths To Senate Majority, But Tea Party Poses Problems

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans count enough competitive races to challenge Democrats for control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, if only they can figure out what to do with the tea party.

Crowded primaries in states such as Georgia, Iowa and North Carolina, where tea partyers and social conservatives are fighting for the nomination and pushing candidates farther right, worry many Republicans, especially after they saw their legitimate shots at a Senate majority slip away in 2010 and 2012.

Republicans need a net gain of six seats to capture control from Democrats, who effectively hold a 55-45 advantage now. But Democrats will be defending 21 of 35 seats to be decided in November, and President Barack Obama is looking like a major drag for them. Midterm elections are often tough for a president's party in any event.

"History is with us, geography is with us and the president's signature legislative achievement is the most unpopular" law of his tenure, Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said of Obama and his health care overhaul.

Republicans inside and outside the Senate speak confidently about snatching open seats in West Virginia and South Dakota. They like their chances against Democratic incumbents in Republican-leaning Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska and remain upbeat about Montana even if Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock names Lt. Gov. John Walsh to succeed Sen. Max Baucus, Obama's choice for U.S. ambassador to China.

MORE...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/29/republicans-senate-majority_n_4515335.html

Saudi Arabia Gives Lebanon $3 Billion To Bolster Military

BEIRUT (AP) -- Saudi Arabia has pledged $3 billion to Lebanon to help strengthen the country's armed forces and purchase weapons from France, Lebanon's president said Sunday, calling it the biggest grant ever for the nation's military.

Michel Sleiman, who made the surprise announcement in a televised national address, did not provide any further details. The Lebanese army has struggled to contain a rising tide of violence linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria, a conflict that has inflamed sectarian tensions in Lebanon and threatened the country's stability.

"The Saudi king decided to give a generous, well-appreciated grant to Lebanon amounting to $3 billion for the Lebanese army, which will allow it to buy new and modern weapons," Sleiman said. "The king pointed out that the weapons will be bought from France quickly, considering the historical relations that tie it to Lebanon and the military cooperation between the two countries."

Sleiman said he hoped Paris would quickly meet the initiative, and help the Lebanese army with arms, training and maintenance.

French President Francois Hollande, who was in Riyadh Sunday for talks with Saudi King Abdullah, said that France would help if requested to do so.

"If there are demands that are addressed to us, we will satisfy them," Hollande told reporters.

MORE...

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_LEBANON?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-12-29-17-09-25

+972's Person of the Year: Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden’s disclosures exposing the extent of NSA surveillance taught us more about our relationship with government than any other exposure or event. In fact, we learned about relationships we didn’t even know we had. But the Snowden leaks didn’t just change what we know; they sparked a discussion that could very well change the dynamics of power in the coming age.

By Noam Sheizaf

The technological revolution represents the most significant change of our lifetime. The Internet has changed everything: our behavior, our ethics, our economy and even our sex lives. But it is politics, not the music industry, where the most profound changes have taken place. Political participation today starts on the Internet and only later moves to the street, workplaces and polling booths.

Israel’s social justice movement – the largest mass protest the country has ever seen – was organized on Facebook. Social media changed the Palestinian national struggle forever: it brought together displaced communities and shed light on grassroots struggles. If it wasn’t for social media, few would have learned of places like Nabi Saleh and Bil’in. The mainstream media never took interest in Palestinian grassroots leaders – only when they were labeled terrorists did they become worthy of attention – but social media has changed that too.

As journalists, we are experiencing firsthand how the Internet has altered our profession, putting some of us out of work while creating new opportunities for others, ones that we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago. A project like +972 Magazine could not have existed without the platforms provided by WordPress and Google, Facebook and Twitter.

But as much as we are aware of the significance of these massive changes, the small amount of attention we pay to the battle over the Internet is astonishing. Until we are faced with a specific problem – a website crashing, a webpage removed, a Facebook account hacked – we tend to take it all for granted.

Rather, we used to tend to take things for granted. That is, until a soft-spoken, geeky-looking computer specialist showed us how fragile the new freedoms provided by technology are and the degree to which the virtual universe is exposed to manipulation and abuse. He showed us how underdeveloped our thinking is on privacy and political participation in this virtual space. He showed us just how exposed we are in the face of power in this virtual world – more than we could have ever imagined, let alone agreed to, in our more physical existence.

MORE...

http://972mag.com/972s-person-of-the-year-edward-snowden/84512/

Whitewashing The Settlers' Police Force

Israeli police in the West Bank manage to avoid carrying out the most basic of investigative actions – even while holding in custody two suspects caught red-handed.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurv

On July 26, 2010, Israeli civilians – some of whom were seen coming from the direction of the settlements of Yizhar and Har Bracha – went on two rampages in the Palestinian village of Burin. In the first and more severe case, they attacked and destroyed property; when the owner, Ibrahim ‘Id, could no longer stand watching his property go up in flames and approached the scene, they hit him over the head with an iron bar. ‘Id lost consciousness and had to be treated in a hospital.

During the second rampage, Israeli civilians stoned the nearby home of Bashir Hamza Zaban. Unfortunately for the hoodlums, border policemen were on the scene and spotted them. The cops chased the attackers, detaining two of them. One of the detainees hid a knife in his shoe. The two refused to identify themselves, but later were identified in the police station. The two reserved their right to remain silent during their interrogation. Zaban also managed to identify a third attacker, who – unlike the detainees – was not hooded.

On its face, this is an open and shut case. Yet lo and behold: even though two suspects were arrested, having been caught red-handed; even though one of them was carrying a concealed knife; and even though they refused to identify themselves – the police wouldn’t do even the bare minimum, i.e. ask the victim to identify his attackers. Instead, they closed the case, citing lack of evidence.

Hold on, the epic screw-up of this case is just beginning. Despite the fact that Zaban noted in his statement to the police that he was aware of the attack on ‘Id, and although he gave the police a disc containing photos of the attack on ‘Id, the police took its sweet time and summoned ‘Id for a statement in November of 2010, a mere five months after the incident. After all, we all know that the wintesses’ memories only improve as time passes by.

MORE...

http://972mag.com/whitewashing-the-settlers-police-force/84638/
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