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HeadlinesJuly 21, 2014

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Palestinian Toll Tops 500 After Deadliest Day of Israeli Siege

Jul 21, 2014

The Israeli assault on Gaza has seen its bloodiest day so far, bringing the Palestinian death toll to more than 500. More than 100 Palestinians were killed in a 24-hour period between Saturday and Sunday nights. The dead include 72 residents of Shejaiya, one of Gaza’s poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods, where Israeli forces carried out their single worst attack so far. Survivors called the carnage a “massacre,” and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it an “atrocious action.” Eighteen Israeli soldiers have died in Gaza since Thursday, when Israel launched a ground invasion it said was aimed at cutting off tunnels used by Hamas. Thirteen of the soldiers died fighting militants in Shejaiya.

Kerry Caught on Mic: “It’s a Hell of a Pinpoint Operation”

Jul 21, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Cairo today to back international efforts for a ceasefire. On Sunday, Kerry made the rounds of talk shows to defend Israel’s assault on Gaza. But in between appearances, cameras captured a private phone call with an aide, where Kerry appeared to criticize the massive Palestinian death toll.

John Kerry: “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation. It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”

Aide: “Right, it’s escalating significantly, and it just underscores the need for a ceasefire.”

John Kerry: “We’ve got to get over there.”

Aide: “Yup, yup.”

John Kerry: “Thank you, John. I think, John, we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.”

NBC Sends Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin Back to Gaza After Outcry

Jul 21, 2014

NBC has reversed its decision to remove veteran correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza, following a wave of criticism. Mohyeldin was pulled from coverage of Gaza last week after witnessing Israel’s killing of four boys on a Gaza beach. His reports have placed the siege in the wider context of Israeli occupation, sparking criticism from some supporters of Israel’s offensive. Glenn Greenwald revealed the decision to remove him came from NBC executive David Verdi. On Friday, NBC said in a statement it had “carefully considered our deployment decisions and we will be sending Ayman back to Gaza over the weekend.” Mohyeldin tweeted, “Proud of NBC’s continued commitment to cover the #Palestinian side of the story.”

Ukraine Launches Assault on Donetsk; U.N. to Vote on Access to Crash Site

Jul 21, 2014

Ukraine has launched an assault on the rebel-held city of Donetsk, about 50 miles from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. All 298 people on board died when the plane was shot down last Thursday. Earlier today, Dutch investigators began inspecting the bodies, which were being stored at a railway station in refrigerated cars. The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote today on a resolution demanding international access to the crash site in Donetsk, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Alexander Borodai, head of the recently proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, has denied interfering with the crash probe and vowed to turn over the plane’s black box to investigators. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has threatened further sanctions against Russia, citing mounting evidence that rebels fired the missile which brought down the plane.

John Kerry: “We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing. And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar. We also know from voice identification that the separatists were bragging about shooting it down afterwards. So there’s a stacking up of evidence here which Russia needs to help account for.”

U.S. Drone Kills 15 amid Pakistani Assault on North Waziristan

Jul 21, 2014

In Pakistan, a U.S. drone strike killed up to 15 people Saturday in the village of Datta Khel in North Waziristan. It was the third U.S. strike in the region in less than two weeks. The New York Times, citing local residents and an anonymous official, said the dead were militants. On Sunday, the Pakistani military bombed the Shawal Valley in North Waziristan, killing 28 people it said were militants. According to Reuters, an earlier bombing Friday killed 17 civilians, including six children. The attacks are part of a Pakistani assault launched last month after repeated U.S. urging. The military ordered all of the population in North Waziristan to leave before the offensive, but some families are too poor or sick to go.

Iranian Nuclear Talks Extended Until November

Jul 21, 2014

Iran, the United States and five other countries have agreed to extend talks on Iran’s nuclear program for another four months after failing to meet a Sunday deadline. Last week President Obama said Iran had met its commitments under an interim deal, but said “some significant gaps” still remained.

Libya: 47 Killed in Fighting at Airport

Jul 21, 2014

In Libya, health officials say fighting between rival militias vying for control of the main airport has killed at least 47 people. The violence is among the worst since the U.S.-backed ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Nicaragua: 5 Sandinista Gov’t Supporters Shot Dead

Jul 21, 2014

In Nicaragua, five people have been killed and two dozen wounded in the province of Matagalpa after gunmen opened fire on buses carrying supporters of the Sandinista government. The passengers were returning from Saturday’s gathering in the capital Managua to celebrate 35 years since the Sandinistas ousted the Somoza dictatorship. An anti-Sandinista group claimed responsibility on social media.

Typhoon Rammasun Kills 26 in China, Vietnam; Philippines Toll Hits 95

Jul 21, 2014

In southern China, the strongest typhoon to hit the region in more than 40 years has killed at least 18 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. Typhoon Rammasun also killed eight people in Vietnam. Last week, the same typhoon blasted the Philippines, where the death toll has risen to 95.

Australia Repeals Tax on Carbon Emissions

Jul 21, 2014

Australia has repealed laws aimed at curbing global warming by charging corporations for carbon emissions. The repeal of the carbon tax was a key promise of right-wing Liberal Party Prime Minister Tony Abbott. His critics say Australia has now become the first country in the world to undo progress on climate change. During the first year the tax was in place, emissions dropped by their largest amount in more than two decades. Last year was Australia’s hottest year on record.

Smoker’s Widow Wins $23.6 Billion in Punitive Damages from R.J. Reynolds

Jul 21, 2014

A jury in Florida has ordered the second largest cigarette maker in the United States to pay $23.6 billion in punitive damages to the widow of a smoker who died from lung cancer. Cynthia Robinson’s husband died in 1996 at the age of 36. The jury found the firm R.J. Reynolds had concealed the harms of smoking. Willie Gary, an attorney for Cynthia Robinson, celebrated the verdict.

Willie Gary: “This verdict is clearly — it’s going to send a message to the big tobacco companies, and not only to the tobacco companies, but to all of those companies that feel that, for whatever reason, profits come before people and safety. And that’s just not the case.”

R.J. Reynolds has vowed to appeal. Last week its parent company, Reynolds American, agreed to buy rival tobacco giant Lorillard in a $25 billion deal.

More Than 1,000 Rally in Detroit to Protest Water Shutoffs

Jul 21, 2014

In Detroit, Michigan, more than 1,000 people from across the United States gathered Friday to protest the city’s mass shutoff of water to thousands of residents who are behind on payments. Nine people were arrested for blocking the departure of trucks from a private firm hired to conduct shutoffs. According to the water department, more than 15,000 households saw their taps cut from March through June, with more than 90,000 at risk after falling at least two months behind on their bills. A U.N. panel has called the shutoffs a “violation of the human right to water.”

NYC Residents Protest Death of Eric Garner After Police Chokehold

Jul 21, 2014

In New York City, residents rallied over the weekend to protest the death of Eric Garner, an African-American father of six who died after police placed him in a chokehold. Police had accused Garner of selling loose cigarettes. Graphic video of Thursday’s incident shows an officer pulling Garner to the ground by the neck and then holding his head against the pavement. As other officers crowd on top of Garner, he repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe.” Garner soon stops moving. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The officer who used the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, has been moved to desk duty and ordered to turn in his badge and gun pending investigations. According to the Associated Press, three men have sued Pantaleo in the past two years for unlawful, racially motivated arrests.

NYPD Cracking Down on Street Performers in Revival of “Broken Windows” Policy

Jul 21, 2014

Newly reinstated New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton is already facing criticism for reimplementing his policy of cracking down on low-level offenses. Bratton was criticized for his embrace of the so-called “broken windows” policy during his first stint as commissioner in the mid-1990s. As part of a revived crackdown this year, police have so far arrested more than 240 performers who dance and perform acrobatics in the city’s subway system, a sixfold increase over last year. Critics say the crackdown targets young men of color, who make up the majority of street performers. Two performers said they have recently been arrested.

Kalan Sherrard, BUSK-NY: “I was arrested a few months ago for doing — I was doing a puppet show underneath Times Square and was arrested. What they cite us for is for impeding pedestrian traffic, but it was a wrongful arrest, and it was dismissed before it went to court. And they know that it’s silly.”

Besnkheru, subway performer: “There’s a detail undercover, and, you know, for the time I’ve been doing it, it hasn’t been a problem. There wasn’t a detail looking specifically for performers.”

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