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Israeli Cruelty Reached A Point Of No Return In The 2008-09 Gaza War

There have been crueler military actions, more wicked army operations, but there was never anything quite like the IDF’S Operation Cast Lead.

By Gideon Levy | Mar.31, 2013

She was standing there screaming, the veins in her neck seeming about to burst. “What’s happened to you − have all of you gone crazy? Who knows what he had in his house, maybe there were weapons there?” The crowd of curious onlookers gathered around her, and they too were shouting: “She’s absolutely right ... Garbage! Garbage! That’s what you are.”

This scene took place on Saturday, January 17, 2009, on Day No. 21 of the Israel Defense Forces assault on the Gaza Strip known as Operation Cast Lead. It was the penultimate day of the operation. The place: a corridor in the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, outside Tel Aviv. The occasion: A press conference with Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, a Gaza Strip physician who once worked at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, and who the previous day had lost his three daughters and his niece when an IDF shell hit their family home in the Jabalya refugee camp, near Gaza City.

It was perhaps the purest, most distilled moment of the entire operation: a moment when Israeli cruelty and hatred reared their heads, without excuses, without any cloak of “security-related” or “love of the Land of Israel” motivations. Pure, undiluted cruelty and hatred, this screaming at a bereaved father, who even in his hour of profound sorrow did not speak hatred, and who has spoken peace ever since his tragedy, as well.

Levana Stern, who introduced herself to al-Aish in the hospital as the mother of three paratroopers who were in Gaza at the time, was incapable of sharing the bereavement of this Palestinian enemy, did not identify even for a moment with his pain, did not comprehend his heartache. Decades of brainwashing and the fanning of incitement and hatred had apparently had their effect on her, and burst forth in a single moment: “Who knows what he had inside his house,” she declared, standing before a man who was seen by some to be practically an Israeli, who had just lost the people most precious to him, whose world had collapsed upon him.



Thousands Protest the UK Government's Brutal Austerity

Britain's government has introduced sweeping changes to the country's welfare, justice, health and tax systems, including a "bedroom tax" that will reduce housing subsidies that primarily benefit poor people. The levy ostensibly aims to "tackle overcrowding and encourage a more efficient use of social housing," resulting in an estimated million "social housing" households losing 14-25 percent of their housing benefits.

The Guardian:

Critics say it is an inefficient policy as in the north of England, families with a spare rooms outnumber overcrowded families by three to one, so thousands will be hit with the tax when there is no local need for them to move. Two-thirds of the people hit by the bedroom tax are disabled.

Thousands of trade unions, advocates for the disabled, leading churches, and anti-poverty protesters held marches against the changes over the weekend, calling the cuts "unjust." In a joint report released over the weekend, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland criticized the government of perpetuating myths about poverty in an attempt to justify the cuts.



As Profit Shares Hit New Highs, Washington Focuses on Abuse of Disability System

The Commerce Department released data on corporate profits last week that showed the before-tax profit share in 2012 reaching its highest level since 1951. The after-tax profit share edged down by one-tenth of a percentage point from its 2011 level, but was still higher than every other year since 1930. Naturally this new information led the Very Serious People (VSP) in Washington to focus on the problems of abuses of the Social Security disability system.

If soaring profits and rising disability rates seem unrelated, then you better look closer. The most obvious reason that profit shares are soaring is that high unemployment takes away workers' bargaining power. As a result of the collapse of the housing bubble, the economy is still down almost 9 million jobs from its trend growth path.

With the supply of labor continuing along its trend path and the demand for labor having fallen sharply, wages will be pushed downward. That is exactly what we have seen over the last five years as real wages have been flat or declining since 2007. This means that the gains from productivity growth over this period have gone overwhelmingly to corporate profits.

The downturn has also been the main factor behind a surge in disability rates. Prior to the downturn, disability rates were actually somewhat below the projections from the mid 90s. This changed radically when the economy collapsed in 2008. Workers who may have been able to hold jobs despite disabilities in the years before the downturn suddenly found themselves unemployed.



Weather Service Expands Severe Weather Warning

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Residents of Sumner County, Kansas, received a dire warning last year as a tornado barreled through toward Wichita: Get underground or into a shelter - or else.

"Mass devastation is highly likely, making the area unrecognizable to survivors," the National Weather Service cautioned last April.

In an effort to get people to safety quickly, the National Weather Service said Friday that it will expand its retooled severe weather warning system in Kansas, Missouri and 12 more Midwestern states.

Starting Monday, it will provide media outlets and emergency services with more detail about the strength of a brewing tornado or thunderstorm, what it may hit and when. The system will also detail possible hazards and impacts of any potential tornado based on radar data, and more information on less severe but still "considerable" storms.

Mike Hudson, an NWS meteorologist in Kansas City, Mo., said alerts with words such as "catastrophic" and "destruction" will likely be rare - once a year in Kansas and twice a decade in northern states like Minnesota. The words will be reserved for "those types of tornadoes that ultimately take lives, so we want to ring the bell a little bit louder," he said.



We were just discussing yesterday and how quiet a spring for severe weather it has been so far this year.

Killing Of District Attorney And His Wife Puts Other Texas Prosecutors On High Alert

y Associated Press, Updated: Monday, April 1, 12:44 PM

KAUFMAN, Texas — Deputies escorted some Kaufman County employees into the courthouse Monday, two days after the district attorney and his wife were found shot to death in their home in an attack that stirred fears that other public employees could be targeted by assassins.

Law enforcement officers were seen patrolling one side of the courthouse, one holding a semi-automatic weapon, while others walked around inside.

Authorities have said little about the investigation into the deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, whose bodies were found Saturday.

The couple’s slayings came less than two weeks after Colorado’s prison chief was shot to death at his front door, apparently by an ex-convict, and a couple of months after Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was killed in a parking lot near his courthouse office. No arrests have been made in Hasse’s Jan. 31 killing.

“I don’t want to walk around in fear every day ... but on the other hand, two months ago, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” County Judge Bruce Wood, the county’s top administrator, said Monday at a news conference.



PROMISES, PROMISES: Obama Has A Year To Deliver On Pledge To Prevent Iran From Obtaining Nukes

The issue:

President Barack Obama pledged during the 2012 campaign, and since, that he will not let Iran develop nuclear weapons.

According to his own timeline, Obama has about a year left to see if his policy of diplomacy and sanctions can get Iran to slow its enrichment of uranium and assure the world its nuclear program is peaceful. If the United States and its partners cannot succeed, the stage may be set for an American or Israeli military intervention.

Resolving the standoff while avoiding war ranks among the biggest foreign policy challenges of Obama's second term. And time grows short.

The promise:

"When it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table. ... That includes all elements of American power: a political effort aimed at isolating Iran, a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored, an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency." — Speech to pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, March 4, 2012.

"The United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." — Speech to United Nations, Sept. 25, 2012.



Prosecution Pushes Death Penalty For Colorado Theater Shooting Suspect

Source: CNN

(CNN) -- Prosecutors said Monday they will seek the death penalty for Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes despite his offer last week to plead guilty in exchange for avoiding a death sentence.

"It is my determination and my intention that in this case for James Eagan Holmes, justice is death," Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said.

The decision comes less than a week after defense attorneys filed documents saying Holmes had offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

Prosecutors took the defense to task for publicly offering it, saying they hadn't been given enough information to even consider such a deal.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/01/justice/colorado-theater-shooting-prosecution/

Manufacturing in U.S. Expanded Less Than Forecast in March

By Shobhana Chandra - Apr 1, 2013

Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded less than forecast in March as factories slowed production and orders waned.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index fell to 51.3 from the prior month’s 54.2 that was the highest since June 2011, the Tempe, Arizona-based group’s figures showed today. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 54. A reading of 50 is the dividing line between growth and contraction.

Limited improvement in the global economy and concern about the effects on the U.S. expansion from automatic cuts in federal spending may be prompting some companies to cut back. At the same time, progress in the housing industry and resilient consumer demand will help to cushion the hit, keeping American factories running.

“It’s a mixed picture,” said Guy LeBas, chief fixed- income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, whose forecast of 51.6 was the lowest in the Bloomberg survey. “It highlights the downside of reduced government spending but underscores a fairly stable private sector.”

The 2.9-point decline in the factory gauge was the biggest since July 2011. The median forecast was based on projections from 69 economists in the Bloomberg survey, and estimates ranged from 51.6 to 55.



North Korean Secrecy On Bomb Test Fuels Speculation On Nuclear Advances

By Joby Warrick, Sunday, March 31, 8:12 PM

U.S. officials and independent experts say North Korea appears to have taken unusual steps to conceal details about the nuclear weapon it tested in February, fuelingsuspicions that its scientists shifted to a bomb design that uses highly enriched uranium as the core.

At least two separate analyses of the Feb. 12 detonation confirmed that the effects of the blast were remarkably well contained, with few radioactive traces escaping into the atmosphere — where they could be detected — according to U.S. officials and weapons experts who have studied the data.

U.S. officials anticipated the test and monitored it closely for clues about the composition of the bomb, which was the third detonated by North Korea since 2006. The first two devices were thought to have used plutonium extracted from a dwindling stockpile of the fissile material that North Korea developed in the late 1990s.

A successful test of a uranium-based bomb would confirm that Pyongyang has achieved a second pathway to nuclear weapons, using its plentiful supply of natural uranium and new enrichment technology. A device based on highly enriched uranium, HEU, also would deepen concerns about cooperation between the hermetic regime and Iran.


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