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HeadlinesAugust 19, 2014

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31 Arrested in Ferguson Protests Overnight; 2 Shot During Unrest

Aug 19, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri, has seen another night of heavy unrest in the ongoing uproar over the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. At least 31 people were arrested as street clashes erupted between groups of demonstrators and riot police. Police are claiming they came under “heavy gunfire” and that unknown suspects shot two people over the course of the night. Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson blamed what he called a small group of “lawbreakers.”

Capt. Ron Johnson: “These criminal acts came from a tiny minority of lawbreakers. But anyone who has been at these protests understands that there is a dangerous dynamic in the night. It allows a small number of violent agitators to hide in the crowd and then attempt to create chaos. The catalysts can be bottles thrown, Molotov cocktails, and of course shots fired. Protesters are peaceful and respectful. Protesters don’t clash with police.”

At least two journalists were detained overnight, including Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept. The governor of Missouri deployed the National Guard to the streets of Ferguson, but so far they have played a limited role, protecting the police command post.

Brown Family Attorney: Autopsy Backs Up Witness Accounts of Fatal Shooting

Aug 19, 2014

The officer who shot Michael Brown, Darren Wilson, remains in hiding and on paid leave. Earlier on Monday, the family of Brown held a news conference to discuss a private autopsy that revealed Brown had been shot six times. Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump said the autopsy backed up the accounts of witnesses who claimed Brown was shot as he tried to flee.

Benjamin Crump: “And what does this preliminary autopsy tell us? It verifies that the witness accounts were true, that he was shot multiple times. And it’s going to be one of those things that we have to get all the witness statements out and look at all the autopsies, all the evidence, to put this picture together, for his family knows that the witnesses, what they were telling them about him being shot multiple times in broad daylight was accurate.”

The Justice Department is conducting its own autopsy in addition to another by state medical examiners. Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with FBI agents conducting a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting.

Obama Raises Concerns about Police Militarization in Post-Shooting Crackdown

Aug 19, 2014

Speaking at the White House, President Obama declined to weigh in on the specifics of the Michael Brown shooting, citing an ongoing federal investigation. But Obama voiced concerns about the militarized police response to the protests seen over the past week.

President Obama: “There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred. That would be contrary to our traditions. And I think that there will be some bipartisan interest in re-examining some of those programs.”

Israel, Hamas Extend Truce for 24 Hours; Key Differences Remain

Aug 19, 2014

Israel and Hamas have renewed their ceasefire for another 24 hours. The truce was due to expire after five days but was extended to continue talks in Cairo. Palestinian negotiators say the 24-hour extension will be the last and that Palestinian delegates are unified in their demands, which include an easing of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The two sides have reportedly narrowed differences on some issues but remain at an impasse on others, including the opening of an airport and seaport for Gaza, as well as the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

U.N. Agency: Gaza Can’t Return to Blockade Conditions

Aug 19, 2014

Speaking in Gaza, Pierre Krahenbuhl, the head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, said the blockade needs to be lifted for Gaza’s survival.

Pierre Krahenbuhl: “It is not enough to have a cessation of hostilities and then go back to pre-existing conditions under the blockade, which on my first visits I already described here before the conflict as being unsustainable in human terms. It is not possible to have 830,000 people and now 1.1 million people out of 1.8 million people in Gaza under UNRWA’s food distribution list and WFP’s food distribution list. People have to understand in the world what that means to have 1.1 million people assisted, and I take no pride in that figure.”

Israel Blocks Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch from Gaza

Aug 19, 2014

The Israeli government is blocking Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch from entering the Gaza Strip, preventing researchers from investigating the assault. The Israeli journalist Amira Hass reports the groups have been told they must register as a humanitarian aid organization, only to later be informed they do not qualify. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have previously issued reports that raised allegations of potential war crimes by Israel, as well as on a smaller scale by Hamas.

Obama Hails “Major Step” as Kurdish, Iraqi Forces Retake Mosul Dam

Aug 19, 2014

Kurdish and Iraqi forces say they have retaken control of the Mosul Dam, reversing one of the Islamic State’s key achievements in its sweep through northern Iraq. The apparent victory over the Islamic State, known widely as ISIL, follows the most intensive U.S. airstrikes of the bombing campaign that began earlier this month. The Iraqi government now says it has launched an operation to retake the town of Tikrit. At the White House, President Obama praised what he called “a major step forward” in Iraq and said he believes his decision to launch U.S. strikes is in the national security interest. Obama also said an escalation of U.S. involvement is “less likely” if the new Iraqi government adopts an inclusive approach.

President Obama: “We’ve got a national security interest in making sure our people are protected and in making sure that a savage group that seems willing to slaughter people for no rhyme or reason other than they have not kowtowed to them, that a group like that is contained. … Our goal is to have effective partners on the ground, and if we have effective partners on the ground, mission creep is much less likely.”

Islamic State Video Threatens Attacks on Americans

Aug 19, 2014

President Obama’s comments on Iraq come as the Islamic State has released a video warning of an attack on Americans around the world if the U.S. strikes hit its forces in Iraq. The video shows a photograph of an American beheaded during the Iraq War with a caption reading: “We will drown all of you in blood.”

Ukraine, Rebels Trade Allegations of Civilian Killings

Aug 19, 2014

Ukraine is accusing separatist rebels of killing dozens of refugees. The Ukraine government says the rebels attacked a convoy of civilians trying to flee the war-ravaged east, which has seen intensified violence in recent months. Rebel leaders have either denied an attack took place or claimed Ukraine was responsible for any casualties that may have occurred. There has been no independent confirmation of either side’s claims. The United Nations says more than 2,000 have died since fighting erupted in April, with more than half killed in just the last two weeks.

Unidentified Warplanes Strike Militias in Libya

Aug 19, 2014

Unidentified warplanes have bombed targets in the Libyan capital of Tripoli amidst continued violence between government forces and rebel militias. The strikes reportedly targeted militia-controlled areas, killing six. Representatives of renegade Libyan General Khalifa Haftar have claimed responsibility for the air bombings. But doubts have been raised as Haftar’s forces are believed to lack the capability. Both NATO and the United States have denied involvement.

Tens of Thousands Rally in Pakistan Anti-Gov’t Protests

Aug 19, 2014

Pakistan is in its fifth day of massive anti-government protests. Tens of thousands of demonstrators led by opposition leader Imran Khan have rallied nationwide in a call for the resignation Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Opponents accuse Sharif of corruption and vote rigging. Convoys have departed from several cities to join a march today in the capital Islamabad.

Nazi Resister Returns Holocaust Medal to Israel After Losing Relatives in Gaza

Aug 19, 2014

A 91-year-old man honored by Israel for saving a Jewish life during the Nazi Holocaust has returned his medal in protest of the Gaza assault. Henk Zanoli was given Israel’s Righteous Among the Nations award for his actions under Nazi occupation in Amsterdam. In 1943, Zanoli smuggled out a Jewish boy and helped hide him in his home for two years, despite Nazi suspicion he and his family backed the resistance. Zanoli’s father was executed in a concentration camp and his brother-in-law executed as a resistance fighter. But last week, Zanoli returned his medal to the Israeli Embassy in The Hague, saying that Israeli bombings of Gaza had killed six of his relatives. His grandniece is married to a Palestinian man who lost three brothers, a sister-in-law, a nephew and his father’s first wife in a bombing of their home last month. Zanoli writes: “For me to hold on to the honor granted to me by the State of Israel under these circumstances, would be an insult … to those in my family, four generations on, who lost no less than six of their relatives in Gaza.” Zanoli added: “The actions of your state in Gaza these days have already resulted in serious accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. … It would be of no surprise to me that these accusations could lead to possible convictions if true and unpoliticized justice is able to have its course. What happened to our kin in Gaza will no doubt be brought to the table at such a time as well.”

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