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HeadlinesJuly 29, 2015

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Turkey Escalates Assault on PKK in Northern Iraq

Jul 29, 2015

In Turkey, the military has carried out its heaviest assault on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq since airstrikes began last week, effectively ending a two-year truce. Turkey has launched combat operations on two fronts: one against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria and another against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, inside Turkey and in northern Iraq, where the PKK has been fighting against ISIL for the past year. During an emergency session in Brussels Tuesday, NATO offered support for Turkey’s military campaigns, although some member states expressed unease over the crackdown against the Kurds. We’ll have more on Turkey after headlines.

Obama to African Union: “Nobody Should Be President for Life”

Jul 29, 2015

President Obama has wrapped up his historic visit to Kenya and Ethiopia with an address to the African Union. In his speech, Obama called on the continent’s long-entrenched leaders to step aside, saying, “Nobody should be president for life.” The address marked the first time a U.S. sitting president has spoken before African Union. Obama joked that he could win a third term — but can’t run.

President Obama: “I actually think I’m a pretty good president. I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t. So there’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving, but the law is the law.”

Obama’s comments come just days after Burundi’s president won re-election for a third term, despite massive protests denouncing the move as unconstitutional.

Afghan Officials Claim Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Has Died

Jul 29, 2015

In news from Afghanistan, the government is investigating reports the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, has died. Sources within the government have reportedly told news outlets Omar died two or three years ago. This is the first time Afghan officials have confirmed reports of Omar’s death. The Taliban has not confirmed the information, but it has told the BBC that it will soon issue a statement.

Migrant Dies as Thousands Try to Enter Eurotunnel to Reach U.K.

Jul 29, 2015

In news from Europe, at least one migrant has died after 1,500 people tried to enter the Eurotunnel in Calais, France, in efforts to reach England. Yesterday’s death comes after 2,000 migrants attempted enter the Eurotunnel on Monday night. British Home Secretary Theresa May met with French officials Tuesday to discuss the growing number of migrants crossing into Europe and through the Eurotunnel into England as they flee violence in Africa, Syria and Iraq. May spoke about the plans to increase security measures.

Home Secretary Theresa May: “We’ve agreed today that we will work together to return migrants, particularly to West Africa, to insure that people see that making this journey does not lead to them coming to Europe and being able to settle in Europe. And at Calais, the French government have already been putting in extra resources, extra police resources, and the U.K. government will be putting in up to seven million pounds more, to ensure the security of the Eurotunnel railhead at Coquelles.”

Haitians in DR Say Immigration Papers They Paid for Have Not Arrived

Jul 29, 2015

In news from the Dominican Republic, hundreds of Haitians protested to demand the return of over $100,000, which they say was paid to secure immigration papers that never arrived. Earlier this year, the Dominican Republic stripped hundreds of thousands of Haitians of their legal status and announced that it would begin deporting those who did not secure proper immigration papers. The move set thousands scrambling to secure papers, but now many say that although they paid for the documents, they have not yet arrived. Jésus Nuñez, the coordinator of the national union of sugarcane workers, spoke at the protest.

Jésus Nuñez: “We are calling for the 4,608,000 pesos (102,230 U.S. dollars) that were deposited in the BHD Bank in the name of the Haitian Embassy to be returned. Until now, not one sugarcane worker has a certificate, an identity card or a passport.”

Finland: 15,000 March to Denounce Lawmaker’s Anti-Immigrant Comments

Jul 29, 2015

In Finland, as many as 15,000 people attended rallies and protests Tuesday to denounce recent comments by an elected official that multiculturalism was “a nightmare.” The lawmaker is from the Finns Party, the second-largest in Parliament, which has backed strict immigration laws. Many are now calling for the official, Olli Immonen, to resign.

Morgan Freeman & Jewish Congressman Levin Support Iran Nuclear Deal

Jul 29, 2015

In news from Washington, the proponents of the Iran nuclear deal have gained key allies this week, including famed actor Morgan Freeman and Representative Sander Levin, who is the longest-serving Jewish congressmember. This support comes as Secretary of State John Kerry warned that rejecting the deal could lead to Iran gaining nuclear weapons. In a now viral video released Tuesday, Morgan Freeman and other actors, comedians, politicians and diplomats called on Congress to approve the deal.

Morgan Freeman: “Ultimately, we could be forced into a war with Iran, another dangerous, drawn-out and expensive conflict in the Middle East with many lives lost.”

Jonathan Pollard, Convicted of Spying for Israel, to Be Freed in Nov.

Jul 29, 2015

The United States Parole Commission has announced that Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard will be released in November. Pollard is a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of passing U.S. secrets to Israel. He was sentenced to life in prison. In 1999, Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker reported Israel was suspected of sharing some of Pollard’s material with the Soviet Union in exchange for continued Soviet permission for Jews to emigrate to Israel. The announcement of Pollard’s parole comes as the United States attempts to appease Israel following the Iran nuclear deal.

Report: “Strong Evidence” of Israeli War Crimes in 2014 Gaza Assault

Jul 29, 2015

Amnesty International has said there is “strong evidence” that Israel committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity during its assault on Gaza last summer. In a report released today, Amnesty International chronicled the Israeli assault on the Gaza city of Rafah, describing a “relentless and massive bombardment of residential areas … displaying a shocking disregard for civilian lives.” The findings echo an earlier U.N. report which found both Israel and Palestinian militants committed possible war crimes during the assault, which killed 2,200 Palestinians. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers.

Judge Releases Video of Sandra Bland Entering Waller County Jail

Jul 29, 2015

Authorities in Waller County, Texas, have released video of Sandra Bland entering the jail in an effort to dispel rumors she was already deceased when she entered the facility. Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell three days after she was arrested for failing to signal a lane change. Dash cam video of her arrest shows Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia forcibly removing her from her car and threatening to “light [her] up” after she refused to put out her cigarette. She can later be heard accusing police of slamming her head into the ground. Authorities have said she committed suicide in jail, a claim that her family rejects. Tuesday, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon released the footage of Bland entering the jail following her arrest.

Judge Trey Duhon: “Because of some of the things that’s gone out on social media, this county has been literally attacked. We are under cyber-attack by individuals, like the group called Anonymous, who has claimed that Sandra Bland is deceased in the mugshot. You will see video here today that will show that she was alive and well when her mugshot was taken.”

African-American Woman Ralkina Jones Found Dead in Ohio Jail

Jul 29, 2015

Meanwhile, a 37-year-old African-American woman named Ralkina Jones was found dead in a jail cell in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday. Jones is at least the second African-American woman to die in a jail cell since Sandra Bland’s death two weeks ago. She was arrested after a dispute with her ex-husband on Friday. Cleveland authorities are investigating her death.

Lakota Woman Sarah Lee Circle Bear Died After Jailers Ignored Pleas

Jul 29, 2015

In a similar case, news reports surfaced yesterday of the death of a 24-year-old Lakota woman named Sarah Lee Circle Bear, who was found unresponsive in a jail cell on July 6 in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She had been arrested on a violation of her bond. Sarah Lee Circle Bear had reportedly told her jailers that she was in pain, but they had told her to “knock it off” and “quit faking it.” When she was later found unresponsive, she was transferred to a nearby hospital, where she died.

Cincinnati Won’t Release Body Cam Video of Sam DuBose Police Killing

Jul 29, 2015

In Cincinnati, Ohio, the city is refusing to release the police body camera video of the fatal police shooting of Sam DuBose, a 43-year-old African-American man, on July 19. DuBose was shot by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing following a routine traffic stop. The city has so far refused to release the footage, but Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell told local media that he has reviewed the tape and “the video is not good.”

El Salvador: Bus Drivers Go on Strike amid Gang Threats, Killings

Jul 29, 2015

In news from El Salvador, bus drivers have stopped work after two of El Salvador’s deadliest gangs instructed bus drivers to go on strike. The order has crippled transportation in the capital city, San Salvador. The move comes as the two gangs attempt to gain leverage in order to pressure the government to negotiate with them over the conditions of their imprisoned members. At least five bus drivers were found dead on Monday.

Oregon: Activists Rappel from Bridge to Block Shell Arctic Oil Ship

Jul 29, 2015

In Portland, Oregon, a group of environmental “kayaktivists” are setting forth in kayaks to block a Shell icebreaking vessel as it attempts to leave the harbor for oil-drilling operations in the Arctic. Activists also rappelled from a bridge to create an “aerial blockade” of the vessel. The Interior Department has warned there is a 75 percent chance of an oil spill in the Arctic once Shell begins drilling.

$200 Billion Worth of Oil Projects Delayed; BP Posts $6 Billion Loss

Jul 29, 2015

In more news from the fossil fuel industry, oil giant BP has reported an unusually high $5.8 billion loss in the second quarter of 2015. This loss is due to low oil prices combined with settlements over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The announcement of BP’s losses comes as the Financial Times reports that oil and gas companies have delayed investing in new extraction projects worth a total of $200 billion. In total, companies have delayed at least 46 projects that include expensive processes such as deepwater drilling, because the projects would be unprofitable at the current level of oil prices.

Secretive TPP Talks Continue at Luxury Hotel in Hawaii

Jul 29, 2015

Trade ministers from Pacific Rim countries are continuing secret talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact at a luxury hotel in Hawaii. The talks are the first since Congress granted President Obama fast-track authority to push the deal through Congress on an up-or-down vote with no amendments. Japanese Trade Minister Akira Amari cited progress in the talks.

Akira Amari: “All things considered, with the 12 nations involved, we’re working toward a completed result by the upcoming deadline.”

Leaked drafts show a provision of the TPP would allow foreign corporations to sue countries in special tribunals over laws they say could hurt their future profits. This comes as a Canadian gold-mine developer has filed a request for arbitration with a similar tribunal, the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, after protests in Romania stalled efforts to build Europe’s largest open-pit gold mine.

White House Rejects Petition for Snowden Pardon 2 Years Later

Jul 29, 2015

The White House has responded to a petition calling for the pardon of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, after it received more than 100,000 signatures in 2013. That threshold is supposed to guarantee a response from the White House, but the response took more than two years. On Tuesday, Lisa Monaco, Obama’s adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism, rejected the call for a pardon and called for Snowden to “accept the consequences of his actions.”

Zimbabwean Officials Looking for American Who Shot Cecil the Lion

Jul 29, 2015

Zimbabwean officials are searching for an American dentist who shot a well-known and protected lion with a crossbow. Cecil the lion was allegedly lured illegally out of Hwange National Park, where he had protected status. Walter James Palmer allegedly paid $54,000 to hunt the beloved lion. Two Zimbabwean men have been arrested for their role in the lion’s death.

Michael Moore to Release New Film, “Where to Invade Next”

Jul 29, 2015

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore will release a new film at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Titled “Where to Invade Next,” the film is Moore’s first since his 2009 movie, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” Moore said the new film is about “the issue of the United States at infinite war.”

Michael Moore: “I don’t think there’s any one trigger. I mean, we’re all living in this time that we’ve been living in, certainly post-9/11, and everything that’s gone on in this country, and this constant need, it seems, to always have to have an enemy. Where’s the next enemy? So we can keep our whole military-industrial complex alive and keep the companies that make a lot of money from this in business. And so, I’ve always been a little bothered by that.”

Peace Activist, Educator Jerry Berrigan Dies at 95

Jul 29, 2015

And the peace activist and educator Jerry Berrigan has died at home in Syracuse, New York, at the age of 95. The brother of fellow activists Daniel Berrigan and the late Philip Berrigan, Jerry Berrigan helped open a refuge for homeless men and was a regular at protests against Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, where overseas drones are piloted remotely. After his death Sunday, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner ordered flags outside City Hall lowered to half-staff in his honor.

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