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The Islamic State could be on the verge of capturing the besieged Syrian town of Kobani along the Turkish border. ISIS has taken major parts of Kobani after weeks of heavy attacks. Speaking in Geneva, U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura urged international intervention to prevent Kobani’s fall.
Staffan de Mistura: “The world has seen with its own eyes the images of what happens when a city in Syria or in Iraq is overtaken by the terrorist group called ISIS or Daesh: massacres, humanitarian tragedies, rapes, horrific violence. The city of Kobani on the northern border of Syria, close to Turkey, has been under siege now for three weeks. … They are fighting with normal weapons, whereas the ISIS has got tanks and mortars. The international community needs to defend them. The international community cannot sustain another city falling under ISIS.”
In Turkey, at least 12 people have died in Kurdish-led protests calling for Turkish intervention to prevent Kobani’s fall. Thousands of demonstrators clashed with police in the predominant Kurdish areas of the east as well as in the capital Ankara. Around 200,000 people have fled the Islamic State attack on Kobani, most of them Kurds.
The United Nations has issued a new warning over what it calls the “grave” conditions for internally displaced people inside Iraq. On Tuesday, Kevin Kennedy, the deputy U.N. humanitarian coordinator, said Iraq’s 1.8 million internally displaced face a new crisis as winter looms.
Kevin Kennedy: “We are confronting a very grave crisis throughout northern Iraq, and in particular meeting the needs of the 1.8 million internally displaced persons who have come about since December 2013 due to the violence and the conflict in Iraq, which continues unabated. The displaced Iraqis can be found throughout all of Iraq, but particularly in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Our fear is, unless we can provide the shelter and also the items to help people live through the winter, what is currently a very difficult and grave humanitarian challenge will transform itself into a deadly, life-threatening situation for many of the IDPs.”
Canada has become the latest member to join the U.S.-led coalition after its Parliament voted to join the airstrikes campaign in Iraq.
The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States remains in critical but stable condition at a Dallas hospital. Thomas Eric Duncan is receiving an experimental drug and is on dialysis in a fight for his life. On a visit to Dallas to support Duncan’s extended family, Rev. Jesse Jackson expressed concerns about his treatment.
Rev. Jesse Jackson: “In the case of Eric Duncan, the concern here is that we see him as a patient, and not see him as a criminal. When he was in Liberia with a great reputation, he assisted a woman who was pregnant to get healthcare. She died. No wonder that she had the Ebola. He came to America to marry, without feeling any symptoms of sickness. He came and went straight home to be with his to-be family. Clearly, if he had an infectious disease, to his knowledge, he would not have done that. He got sick and came to the hospital, and the symptoms of vomiting and the symptoms of temperature rising and the like, and was sent back home, back into the world with these diseases.”
Duncan, who has no health insurance, was initially sent home from a Dallas hospital despite telling a nurse he had been to Liberia. He was readmitted by ambulance four days later. Four of Duncan’s relatives have been quarantined, and dozens of others with whom he may have come into contact are being monitored. An American journalist being treated in Nebraska after contracting Ebola in Liberia is receiving the same experimental drug as Duncan. The journalist, Ashoka Mukpo, is said to be in stable condition.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is preparing to roll out tougher Ebola screening measures at airports later this week. The new requirements would take effect in the United States and overseas. On Tuesday, CDC Director Tom Frieden said the global Ebola response should not stigmatize or demonize people or communities.
Tom Frieden: “I think we have to keep a couple of things in mind. The first is that, globally, this is going to be long, hard fight. And the second is that we can never forget that the enemy here is a virus. The enemy is Ebola, not people, not countries, not communities — a virus. And it’s a virus that doesn’t spread through the air and that we do know how to control. We do know how to stop it, by isolating patients, doing contact tracing and breaking the chains of transmission.”
In Hong Kong, student protesters have agreed to begin talks with government officials on Friday after more than a week of pro-democracy demonstrations. Tens of thousands have flooded the streets in opposition to China’s plan to select candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 elections. The protests have wound down in recent days, but student leader Lester Shum said they could resume if the talks fail.
Lester Shum: “We are stating here that we sincerely hope that or urge Carrie Lam to face this political problem directly in a political dialogue on Friday. If Miss Carrie Lam or other Hong Kong officials still insist that they will not respond or they will not try to solve the political problem, we may consider to end the political dialogue.”
The protests mark Hong Kong’s biggest political unrest in decades and one of China’s biggest political challenges since the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989.
Police and officials are reportedly preparing for riots in Missouri should a grand jury choose not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. The grand jury’s decision is expected next month after weeks of deliberations. According to Reuters, Missouri authorities have drawn up contingency plans in case violence breaks out in response to a non-indictment. The meetings have been held two or three times a week, with the involvement of several agencies including the FBI. Local officials have also sought intelligence from other police departments nationwide on “out-of-state agitators.” After attending the meetings, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles told Reuters that the concern is “the unrest is going to be far beyond the city of Ferguson.” According to one local gun store owner, weapons sales have been up 50 percent since Brown’s killing, mostly among whites.
An African-American couple has a filed a lawsuit accusing Indiana police of excessive force in an incident caught on video. Jamal Jones was in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by his partner, Lisa Mahone, whose two children were in the back. The family was on their way to visit Mahone’s dying mother in a hospital when police pulled them over because Mahone was not wearing her seat belt. The officers ordered Jones, who was not driving, to exit the vehicle. But he says he refused out of fear the officers would harm him. Police responded by breaking the car’s window and tasering Jones in his seat. Mahone’s son captured the incident on video.
Jamal Jones: “I’m not the operator of this vehicle, so if you do that — all right, I’m not in operation of this vehicle.”
Officer: “Ma’am, are you going to open the door?”
Lisa Mahone: “Why do you say somebody’s not going to hurt you. People are getting shot by the police …”
Jones: “Oh s—t. Damn!”
Police say Jones refused to follow their orders and that officers feared for their safety after seeing him reach for the back. On Tuesday, Jamal Jones and Lisa Mahone spoke out after filing their suit.
Jamal Jones: “It felt like my civil rights was just thrown out the window, along with my body. I tried to explain to the officer. My first thing that I said to him, 'My kid's in the car. My mom is passing. Can we please just make this as quick as possible? Here you go, our information. Can we go to the hospital?’ He threw that out the window. It just — it didn’t feel right. I felt — I felt black again.”
Lisa Mahone: “At the end when it was over with, I looked at all the officers, and I said, 'Do you know' — I said, 'I do not feel like I have police officers in my presence right now.' It felt like I was just — it felt like it was nothing but gangbangers around me.”
According to their complaint, two of the officers involved were named in four previous federal lawsuits involving “the use of excessive force against citizens and arresting citizens without probable cause.”
In New York City, the family of an African-American man who died in a police chokehold has notified the city it plans to seek $75 million in damages. A father of six, Eric Garner died after police wrestled him to the ground and pinned him down. He was accused of selling loose cigarettes. His death fueled the national debate about police use of excessive force and the New York City Police Department policy of cracking down on low-level offenses. Garner’s family filed the notice of claim ahead of a planned lawsuit over his death.
A Georgia grand jury has elected not to bring charges against a police SWAT team for a raid that left a toddler critically wounded. Bounkham Phonesavah spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team threw a flashbang grenade into his playpen while he was sleeping. Authorities had raided the home in the early hours while searching for an alleged drug dealer who was not there at the time. The U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Sally Quillian Yates, says she will now review the case for potential federal charges.
A string of marriage-equality victories continues with bans struck down in two more states. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned LGBT marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. The decision comes one day after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from five states whose marriage equality bans had previously been struck down. After Tuesday, LGBT marriage is now legal in 32 states — up from 19 just last week.