Friday, May 25, 2018

It's a Head-Scratcher

"While in China, if you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source."
"Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present."
U.S. Consulate, Guangzhou, China

"I know of no acoustic effect that would produce concussion-like symptoms; according to my research, strong effects on humans require loudness levels that would be perceived as very loud noise while exposed."
Jürgen Altmann, physics professor, Technischen Universität Dortmund, Berlin

"If you took any one of these patients and put them into a brain injury clinic and you didn't know their background, you would think that they had a traumatic brain injury from being in a car accident or a blast in the military." 
"It's like a concussion without a concussion."
Dr. Randel Swanson, specialist in brain injury rehabilitation, University of Pennsylvania 
US issues health warning after employee in China suffers 'abnormal sensations of sound and pressure'
"We don't want to see that this individual case would be magnified, complicated or even politicised."
"China has been investigating this matter in a very responsible manner. We haven't found that any organisation or individual has carried out such a sonic influence."
"[The US might with to carry out an] internal [probe into the case]."
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

"The employee was sent to the United States for further evaluation. On May 18, 2018 the Embassy learned that the clinical findings of this evaluation matched mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI)." "The Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures."
Jinnie Lee, U.S. Embassy spokesperson, Beijing
There it is, again. Consular officials once more exposed to some mysterious sound wave likened to a 'sonic attack', that occurred just recently in China, after that same peculiar and inexplicable event occurred earlier, a year back, in Cuba, in some cases seriously affecting both American and Canadian Embassy officials, and their family members. Why nowhere else in the world have these events occurred? Only in Communist nations with undercurrents of hostile attitudes toward the West. Strange indeed!

For some of the diplomats and their family members who experienced the peculiarly strange phenomenon that made them peculiarly ill, their experience and its results still linger. Those affected reported "mental fog" that "slowed" them for months, according to a commissioned report. Some became beset with a sense of nervousness and irritability. Two of those interviewed for the study evidently met criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. Their job performance capability was reduced substantially.

Three of those affected required hearing aids in response to moderate-to-severe hearing loss that resulted from their exposure to the unknown-in-origin sound. Many others continued to experience pressure or ringing in their ears, while over half required prescribed medication to enable them to sleep or to respond to headaches. 
 
And among those affected, many were unable to return to work, given symptoms not typical of concussion; pain and ringing in one ear only. Another difference the study noted was that though concussion patients frequently make swift, full recoveries, these patients had their symptoms persist for months on end.
Photo: File photo of the Guangzhou skyline (Getty)
The similarity between the Cuba experience and that now identified in China is striking and puzzling. A government employee in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou reported "subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure", alerting the U.S. State Department of a mild traumatic brain injury brought on by "abnormal" sensations of sound and pressure, resembling those that occurred to American diplomats in Cuba.

"The U.S. government is taking these reports seriously and has informed its official staff in China of this event", stated the US. consulate. As yet, no other cases within or without the diplomatic community have been reported. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing called members of their diplomatic corps from five consulates in China to a meeting for staff to air questions and receive responses. The U.S. is preparing to send a medical team to Guangzhou to conduct medical evaluations for any employees requesting such.

In Cuba, 24 diplomats and their family members had been victimized by "specific attacks" that left them with injuries such as those occurring with brain trauma. When Canadian diplomats experienced similar symptoms, Canada withdrew its officials from Cuba as well. And while investigators suspect the involvement of a "sonic weapon", no proof has arisen other than speculation that this might be the cause of those events.

The "unusual sounds or auditory sensations" reported by the victims have never been identified.
cigdem / Shutterstock.com

Do ‘Sonic Weapons’ Adequately Explain ‘Health Attacks’ on Diplomats in Cuba?  Inaudible sonic weapons are an unlikely cause of the mysterious symptoms suffered by American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Snopes

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Puzzles, Mysteries, Intrigues

"He was killing himself."
"Unfortunately, he was killing everyone else on board. And he did it deliberately."
Larry Vance, veteran aircraft investigator, Canada

"Put bluntly, the MH370 'crash' is undoubtedly a crime of the unlawful killing of 238 innocent people."
"[Clinging to the MH370 accident theory akin to] complicity of a crime."
"The Australian government has also been remiss, they should have put pressure on the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to listen, and act, on professional advice from the aviation community."
Mike Keane, former military pilot
Royal New Zealand Air Force
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 searches the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia for debris after the Malaysian airliner vanished. (Kim Christian/AP)

"What they fail to understand is that while you don an oxygen mask and prevent the worst of the hypoxia situation, you are flying an aircraft at 40,000 feet."
"You are taking an aircraft from sea level to [Australia's highest mountain] Mount Kosciuszko in 20 minutes, then you are taking it over the course of a couple of minutes to the height of Mount Everest plus 1,000 feet. You'll get decompression sickness too."
"During the climb-out [on a cargo plane 25 years ago in the U.S.] the flight crew was unable to pressurize the aircraft and the captain elected to proceed with the flight."
"The crew donned their oxygen masks and shortly thereafter the captain became incapacitated from decompression sickness. The first officer took command and they landed the plane."
Peter Foley, spokesperson, Australian Transport Safety Bureau

"Captain Zaharie dipped his wing to see Penang, his hometown. If you look very carefully, you can see it's actually a turn to the left, and then start a long turn to the right. And then [he does] another left turn."
"So I spent a long time thinking about what this could be, what technical reason is there for this, and, after two months, three months thinking about this, I finally got the answer; Someone was looking out the window."
"It might be a long, emotional goodbye. Or a short, emotional goodbye to his hometown."
Simon Hardy, senior pilot and instructor on the Boeing 777
Malaysia Airlines MH370 went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Photograph: Laurent Errera

The investigators with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are certain that their theory about the mysterious downing of the never-found Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, is correct, that the entire disaster was an unplanned and horribly unfortunate accident. It's neat and final and they have no wish to have it re-opened, scrutinized and open their minds to the clarifying findings of other seasoned experts whose investigation has led to other explanations.

The most certain of which appears to be that the airlines captain of the flight, Zaharie Ahmad Shah's personal life was in shambles and he was depressed, finding the meaning of life eluding him leading to his wish to end it all. And though there are innumerable ways in which that ending could have been accomplished, it seems that this man did not wish to depart life singly, on his own, but planned instead for a spectacular ending that would take the lives of 239 people, none of whom beside himself would have any inkling that this flight would be their last.

A Canadian professional air transport investigative team of which Mr. Vance is a part has written a book detailing their minute examination of all records and evidence and interviews to construct their theory that this was a suicide and a mass murder combined; that one man deciding to end his life decided at the same time to deprive 238 other people who had no share in his feelings or his thoughts of theirs as well. What kind of satisfaction that might serve up to someone launching himself on a death mission will never be known.
The Boeing 777 aircraft took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, headed for Beijing, China
The Boeing 777 aircraft took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, headed for Beijing, China

The man at the controls of Flight MH370 conspired with himself to murder a planeload of passengers and crew. The official theory is that the captain, co-pilot other crew members and passengers were all unconscious and the plane, uncontrolled, simply ran out of fuel, plunging into the Indian Ocean. And then the Australian version of 60 Minutes invited airplane investigators who had launched their own research project to come up with a different version. to appear on the show and discuss the situation.

They posit that the veteran pilot of MH370 depressurized the plane himself, turning off its transponder and while everyone was affected by oxygen deprivation and was unconscious, he was not, and carried out his nefarious plot to ferry the plane and passengers to a watery grave. The question of how it might be possible that a modern aircraft tracked by radar and satellites could disappear is at the crux of the matter. And their theory is that Zaharie simply wanted it to disappear and engineered it to be so.

Peter Foley with the ATSB, spoke to lawmakers in Canberra at a hearing, that he has serious doubts that the pilot could have plotted suicide and murder given the difficulty of flying a depressurized plane. He had, as it happened, led the ATSB's search for MH370 that had failed despite all efforts and grim determination. His disinclination to give the new theory any credit aside, he did concede that the suicide-by-pilot theory was, nonetheless "plausible". The ATSB had been apprised by experts supporting the "controlled ditching" theory.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 (similar to the plane pictured) disappeared somewhere over the Indian Ocean March 8, 2014
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 (similar to the plane pictured) disappeared somewhere over the Indian Ocean March 8, 2014

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Challenges On Land And At Sea

"...The return of Second Fleet helps re-energize NATO as a maritime force in the Atlantic. While I was supreme allied commander at NATO, the former NATO Atlantic command, or Saclant, had atrophied into a test bed for innovation and training and was a shadow of its former self."
"Alongside the return of Second Fleet, NATO has announced a new Atlantic Command as well, which will be embedded within the larger Second Fleet."
"Both will be based in Norfolk, Virginia, and the efficiencies of combining them will allow far better allied participation in U.S. military efforts in the Atlantic Ocean. Look for British, French, German, Italian, Spanish and other advanced warships from Europe to be calling in U.S. ports and operating extensively with American forces from the Arctic down to the Caribbean and well into the deep Atlantic."
"Both commands will be headed up by a single three-star vice-admiral, with staff officers from across the 29 nations of the NATO alliance."
James Stavridis, retired U.S. Navy admiral, former military commander, NATO
Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia
The Second Fleet will be based at its former home - Norfolk, Virginia   Getty Images

The world is divided as it always has been with regional and international challenges. In the far east, China is throwing its considerable weight around, claiming sole ownership of the South China Sea. U.S. allies in the area like Japan whose internationally recognized waters are now in dispute with China, suffer the indignity of watching while China builds artificial islands in the sea in disputed areas and builds military outposts there, claiming territory not its own but its de facto presence auguring permanent status for its claims.

The Chinese have become great tourists with their evolution from great poverty to a swelling middle class, eager to see the rest of the world and spread good cheer. Arriving in Vietnam as tourists, Chinese were ordered to remove the tee-shirts they were wearing, their printed legends declaring China's ownership of the South China Sea in a bid to make friends and influence people. Abroad, Chinese tourists have gained a reputation of arrogant entitlement, such that official China has cautioned them to tone it all down...

China has taken great interest in emerging territorial claims in the Arctic, claiming special status for itself, no doubt drawn both by opening shipping lanes due to climate change altering the pack ice, and with an eye to the vast undersea resources known to be present in the Arctic. China's outlier partner in the UN Security Council has also laid claims to the Arctic as an Arctic power, challenging Canada to its traditional oceanic Arctic territory. Both countries' assertiveness, influence and power make for uneasy international relations.

When the USSR collapsed, leaving satellite countries finally free to be themselves and the Russian Federation was left bereft of its former world power status built in threat and fear, the world exulted that peace would reign now that the Cold War had ended. The U.S., in view of the taut relations that have resulted between it and Moscow under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, has determined that its fleet in the Atlantic, dissolved in 2011 as a cost-saving measure, would be resurrected to guard the Atlantic approaches to the continental U.S.
The U.S. Navy, reacting to an increasingly active Russian Navy, will reactive the Second Fleet.   U.S. Navy

Close to 300 officers and enlisted men and women are due to be assigned to the Second Fleet for responsibilities linked to training the Atlantic Fleet and real-world operations tracking the presence of possibly hostile vessels on their approach to the U.S. coast. Predating this decision of the United States, Russia had rebuilt and re-equipped its Soviet-era Atlantic fleet with updated technology that included hypersonic cruise missiles and nuclear-powered undersea torpedoes.

Vladimir Putin's recent show-and-tell performance where he revealed in his "weapons video", the Russian military's new weapons was as much a crowing performance as it was a direct threat against American defences.

All of which has urged the U.S. forward to a new commitment to area surveillance and the use of oversea long-dwell drones, manned maritime patrol aircraft (Boeing's new P-8 Poseidon) meant to use undersea monitoring systems to track Russian submarines. These listening posts on the deep seabed are critical for advance notice of what is transpiring with the Russian navy.

At-sea combat training exercises with destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers while integrating land-based air both sides of the Atlantic from the U.S. U.K. and Iceland represent critical upgrades to the alliance's vigilance structure.
A frame grab take from Kremlin video footage shows an unmanned submersible with a nuclear engine.
A screen grab shows a new Russian nuclear-powered submarine

All of which is in reflection of the tensions existing between Washington and Moscow with Russian and American forces within shot of one another in Syria. The protocols signed between the U.S. and Russia (the 1972 Incidents at Sea agreements) have fallen into deliberate disuse. A series of close encounters at sea and in the air in the Baltic and Black Seas between the U.S. and Russian fleets highlight the need for response and deterrence, and to influence both sides to update the agreement and respect it in the higher interests of avoiding conflict.

Journalists watch as Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state-of-the-nation address in Moscow on March 1. He calls the Kinzhal (Dagger) missile an "ideal weapon." (AP Photo)
Journalists watch as Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state-of-the-nation address in Moscow on March 1. He calls the Kinzhal (Dagger) missile an "ideal weapon." (AP Photo)
"[The U.S. has underestimated Russia's ability to mount a response, aiming for a] unilateral military advantage that could eventually allow it to dictate its terms in other areas."
"You [United States] will have to assess that new reality and become convinced that what I said today isn't a bluff. It's not a bluff, trust me."
"I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful restrictions and sanctions aimed to contain our country's development: All what you wanted to impede with your policies has now happened. You have failed to contain Russia."
"[The weapon -- an intercontinental hypersonic missile that would fly at 20 times the speed of sound and strike its targets] like a meteorite, like a fireball [is capable of performing sharp manoeuvres on its way to targets, making it] absolutely invulnerable for any missile defence system."
Russian President Vladimir Putin

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Conscience? Scruples? That's for Losers

"At the beginning I felt bad, but you get used to it."
"It's the way you can have a good time. You sell weapons, you earn money and you have fun."
23-year-old Mexican prison inmate
Weapons seized along US border with Mexico
Weapons seized along US border with Mexico  InSight Crime

"Reporting on crime in Mexico for over a decade, I have witnessed the devastation these weapons cause more times than I can count."
"At a stoplight in the city of Culiacan, I saw the corpses of five police officers whom assailants ambushed and sprayed with more than 400 bullets."
"I've been at crime scenes where the assassins killed their targets while firing hundreds of rounds that mowed down innocent bystanders, including children."
Ioan Grillo, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
The United States has a problem with guns. Readily available without too much of a hassle, American citizens can buy all manner of guns, rifles and machine guns of various types. It is one of the most armed nations in the world. And gun violence, understandably is high, despite that gun owners clinging to their entitled right under the Second Amendment of the American Constitution insist that gun ownership is sacrosanct and no one can repeal the law that makes it so.

The powerful lobby of the influential National Rifle Association claims it is gun ownership by legal, lawful gun owners that helps to prevent gun violence, that armed citizens are able to intervene in crisis situations, to lower the elevated violence and take steps with the authority of the arms they possess, to divest an ill-doer of his/her intent to maim and to kill. The situation reads like legally armed citizens versus gun-toting psychopaths.

Alas, guns cannot be kept within American borders; they gravitate outward to infest their northern neighbour as well as the neighbour to the south. Canada has a problem with the illegal entry of American-sourced firearms in the possession of criminals. But Canada's problem is as nothing in comparison to that of Mexico where drugs and violence are paired with guns and unrestrained murder and mayhem.
We're sending guns, crime to Mexico
A cache of seized weapons displayed at a news conference in Phoenix. (Matt York / Associated Press)

The young inmate sentenced to prison in Mexico when a cousin turned him in to authorities, motivated by an argument the two young men had, knew enough to stay far away from U.S. gun shops to acquire the weapons he sold at great profit in Mexico, smuggling AR-15 semiautomatic rifles he would pay $500 for, across the border in his truck, the guns hidden in kitchen appliances. Once in Mexico, he could count on selling the illegal weapons for up to five times what he paid.

He experienced no difficulties whatever in buying whatever he wanted at weekend gun shows in Texas. At those shows purchase of firearms from private sellers is done without a background check, let alone proof of citizenship. Each of those trips and their transactions resulted in  his bringing about a dozen guns back with him to Mexico, to be unloaded at his inflated selling price to those anxious to possess a semiautomatic rifle.

The wealth he amassed assuaged his initial feelings of guilt for his involvement in providing criminal elements, drug traffickers and cartel members with the deadly weapons they use to kill their competitors, any authorities that get in their way, and just incidentally, innocent bystanders. Now in prison for nine years, he can dream about the house he bought, the cars and the motorcycles, with his profits. Presumably they'll still be there when he emerges from prison, a decade older.

Mexico is swimming in guns, brought in across the border from the United States. The United States, on the other hand, is stuffed with illegal drugs that are smuggled across the border from Mexico. Without the guns the drug cartels would be less deadly. Without the drugs addicted American citizens would be less numerous, their overdose deaths less frequent. This is a relationship honed in hell, one of seemingly mutual dependence and hideously mutual carnage.

A new government report details the problems agencies face in fighting weapons trafficking. Here, thousands of guns lie on the ground before being destroyed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in 2012.    AFP/AFP/Getty Images

The Mexican Justice Department traced -- over a six-year period -- over 74,500 firearms taken from criminals in Mexico to the United States. The firearms manufactured in the U.S. or imported from other manufacturing countries. Cartel gunmen use those weapons to commit daily murders. A study by the University of San Diego and the Igarape Institute undertaken in 2013 estimated that 253,000 firearms were purchased for trafficking over the southern border between 2010 and 2012.

One single legal firearms shop exists in the whole of Mexico, operating out of a military base in Mexico City. Buyers must first apply for permits given only when six forms of identification are shown, including proof of no criminal record, a letter from an employer, and the patience to wait for the process to play out; months, at the very least.

Contrast that with anyone at all simply walking into a gun show where a semiautomatic rifle is sold without question. The guns are used in mass murders across Mexico perpetrated by criminal death squads. "The biggest reason why some Mexicans are afraid to return to Mexico is because of criminal organizations, mostly drug traffickers", according to the website Political Asylum, U.S.A.

The prospect of falling victim to the .50 calibre sniper rifles which also target Mexican police and military members or when hitmen with Kalashnikovs produced in China and the Czech Republic, sold in the U.S. where cartels operate workshops to convert semiautomatic AR-15s into fully automatic weapons, is the stuff of nightmares to ordinary Mexicans.

A vehicle makes its way along an alley in a Tijuana, Mexico, neighborhood where residents literally live across the fence from the United States, living beside a numbered fence. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Who's The Leader of the Pack?

"The allies are certainly sick of this but don't seem to have an alternative."
"The Europeans are invested down a path of trying to please the president [Donald Trump], not out of belief but more hope against hope that they will convince him."
"[The real question for the Europeans] is not if they stick with the deal [nuclear agreement with Iran] but will they stand up in the American effort to unravel it and take active measures to protect their companies and banks trading in Iran?"
"[That would be] an extremely confrontational stance, and it's not clear that their companies really want that."
Jeremy Shapiro, former official, U.S. State Department; European Council on Foreign Relations

"Can't we defend what our own interests are? Isn't it wiser to temporarily part ways with the Trump administration?"
"Trump and Europe have fundamentally different objectives."
Nathalie Tocci, senior adviser, European Union 

"At some point -- after having pushed the Europeans on NATO, Paris, the Jerusalem embassy move, trade and now Iran -- the Europeans will come to the conclusion that they're better off going their own way."
"And that point is rapidly approaching."
Ivo H. Daalder, former U.S. ambassador to NATO

"Nobody thinks the trans-Atlantic alliance is over. But how do we make it work with a U.S. leadership that doesn't want to play the role of leader?"
"How do we move ahead in a world, not without the U.S., but with an American leadership not willing to play its traditional role?"
Pierre Vimont, former French ambassador to Washington
Trump
There could tough talking between Trump and his allies over his decision. Credit: PA

American allies in Europe want the status quo to continue; which is to say the long-acknowledged leader-of-the-pack suddenly, with a change of administration, is no longer interested in leading. It wants to withdraw, not necessarily its influence, but its direct responsibilities in ushering the trans-Atlantic alliance toward its self-satisfied goals in aspirational self-interests. Mostly that represents recognizing the frailties and faults of those nations not within their direct political orbit but holding their collective noses and recognizing trade opportunities to stuff their own coffers with the profits.

So regimes that are truly destructive of the human spirit, controlling and manipulative which gain the disapproval of the partnership members are still acceptable for what they can provide in capitalizing on their natural resources to provide revenues for themselves and profitable investments for those willing to set aside their ethics and forget about moral obligations of democratic societies toward populations stifled by corrupt, domineering dictators and profiteers.

While countries like Iran are using their profits to sustain their terrorist non-state militias, it fails to hinder investment and trade with them on the part of Western European nations who prefer not to 'notice' the deep linkage between their investment and profits and the offside support on their part to the fundamentalist, Sharia-driven warmongering terrorism the Islamic Republic of Iran supports, from Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, drenched in the blood of his Syrian Sunni civilians, to Palestinian Hamas, garroting the aspirations of Gazan Palestinians.

That the despicable quasi-politician-businessman-social pariah Trump appears to have scruples eluding the patrician French and punctilious Germans whose major concerns about the collapse of the Iran nuclear agreement is the potential impact on their corporate interests and investment banks trump all other concerns of which they prefer not to know the details calls into question who among them is the more intelligent and decent of human beings.

Quite dreadful of Mr. Trump to decide to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, a city with which Judaic history and heritage is plump with meaning, despite the contemptible short shrift given it by UNESCO at the bidding of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Quite horrible of Israel to defend its borders from the incursion of people infused with hatred of Jews, instructed by Hamas to bring along weapons and to infiltrate the Jewish state to help it celebrate the recognition of Jerusalem as its capital; a dreadful misunderstanding, for which Hamas operatives paid the deadly price.

So selfish of Mr. Trump to think in terms of "America First", as though members of the European Union think of themselves as one big happy family sans borders, without a single thought of their aspirational national fortunes before those of their neighbours. Sad that Britain has decided to ditch the family, but true to form remains concerned about the fallout on trade; in that area alone it fits right in with the others it spurns.

Of course the European governments who deplore Trump's unwillingness to absorb more migrants and refugees particularly from countries that breed Islamist terrorists are themselves focused on migration, but challenged by their pledge to fight Islamophobia making them truly conflicted as though they share a fundamental pathology of both inviting and rejecting the random violence that has afflicted their societies and threatens to overturn their culture and reverse their laws and their politics.

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Spurned Among The Nations

"The IDF employs many creative means of reducing friction with Gazans and uses numerous methods, most of which are not made public, to prevent them from reaching the fence. In addition, over the past few weeks there have been serious efforts to save the lives of children and civilians who have been pushed to the front lines by the Hamas, who are trying to hide behind them in order to infiltrate and attack Israel."
"When there is no alternative, and live ammunition must be used to stop those who storm the fence, the soldiers make heroic and sometimes dangerous efforts not to kill and to only injure those on the other side. The IDF stations senior commanders at every confrontation point to ensure that every shot is approved and backed up by a responsible figure with proper authority. Every staging area has an especially large number of troops in order to make sure that soldiers are not put into life-threatening situations where they will have no choice but to fire indiscriminately."
"A situation where thousands of people rush you is frightening, even terrifying. It is extremely difficult to show restraint, and it requires calm, mature professionalism. Sixty-two dead is an enormous number. But I can testify from my first-hand experience, that every bullet and every hit is carefully reported, documented and investigated, in Excel spreadsheets. Literally. I was there and I saw it with my own eyes."
"This isn’t the time or place to discuss the situation in general and the desperate plight of the residents of Gaza. I’m not interested in starting a political discussion here, although I do have a clear position. What I’m trying to do is present, for everyone who really wants to listen, the extent of the IDF’s enormous effort to protect Israel’s borders while minimizing injuries and loss of life on the other side."
Kinley (Moshe) Tur-Paz, founder and CEO, Kibbutz HaDati Educational Network
Image: Gaza-Israeli border
A Palestinian protester slings rocks near the fence between Gaza and Israel on Tuesday.   Mohammed Saber / EPA
Palestinians living in Gaza have been exploited by Hamas convincing the people who live a deprived existence under the iron rule of the terrorist group which administers the Gaza Strip that their plight of misery could be solved if they simply 'returned' to Israel where their forbears had lived before 1947. Convinced they should congregate and 'demonstrate' at the border between Gaza and Israel and break down the separation fence to express their rage and frustration with their straitened lives, Gazans responded in their thousands.

With and among them have been members of the terrorist group conspiring to use the distraction value of teeming Palestinians flooding the border to elude the notice of the Israeli Defence Forces stationed there to prevent a large-scale invasion of Palestinians into Israel for fear of violence. Using fence-cutters, Hamas operatives have attempted to enter Israel. Warning of various types, from leaflets to cellphone messages have informed Palestinians that the IDF has been instructed to use all means to prevent incursions over the fence.

The response has been that while some of the Palestinians gathered to protest have done so in a non-threatening manner, many among them have flown kites over the border with incendiary material to set fire to vast hectares of farmfields, while others use slingshots to hurl rocks at IDF soldiers, some throwing Molotov cocktails, others brandishing meat cleavers, shouting their intention to slaughter Jews. There are Jewish communities established in close distance from the border, under threat should Hamas terrorists all of whom are pledged to Israel's destruction, advance.
gaza.jpg
Palestinians run to take cover as an Israeli drone fires tear gas grenades east of Gaza City (AFP)

Israel, and the IDF have done everything they possibly can to prevent harm to civilian Palestinians. Tear gas, stink bombs, warning shots and rubber bullets, and live fire when all else fails. What other country threatened with a large-scale invasion of enemies intent on mayhem and murder would not do the same? Yet because this is Israel defending itself against hordes incited by those who abuse them as a way of distracting from their corrupt totalitarian rule, and of using vulnerable people among whom they know there will be injuries, Hamas sees purpose.

So far, 63 Palestinians have lost their lives in such provocations as to concern the IDF that their proximity will result in ingress and danger. Of that total no fewer than 50 have been identified and corroborated by Hamas and other terrorist Palestinian groups as part of their militias. None of which serves to defend Israel against accusations of disproportionate reaction resulting in loss of life of 'peaceful' protestors burning thousands of tires to produce a smokescreen to enable Hamas extremists to infiltrate undetected.

Two things have converged to enrage the Palestinians, both in Gaza and the West Bank; the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and their worsening situation, viewing themselves abandoned by their Arab neighbours. Locating in a part of Jerusalem that has been without question with the sovereign state of Israel since its inception. The U.S. declaration in moving its embassy was careful to explain that this was a move reflecting reality; Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which didn't preclude the U.S. agreeing with the Palestinian Authority's bid for East Jerusalem as its capital.

But just as Palestinians refused the United Nation's Partition Plan and chose to exit the area of the fledgling Jewish State in 1948 while combined Arab armies prepared to descend on Israel to destroy it after which they assured the Palestinians, they could return, their leadership now too decries any perceived entitlements to sovereignty of the Jewish State which they continue to refuse to recognize as a Jewish State. Sneeringly referring to Israel as an apartheid state, yet Arabs, Druze, Kurds, Christians as well as Jews live with equal rights in Israel while the West Bank and Gaza are Judenfrei; any Jews that stumble into those territories as good as forfeit their lives.

The Arab states that in 1948 supported Palestinian demands for the extermination of Israel, no longer do. For one thing, though Arab states with the exception of Jordan have never offered permanent residence and citizenship to Palestinians, view them as unassimilable and undesirable. For another ongoing unreasonable demands by Palestinian leaders that Israel sacrifice everything and they themselves need make no concessions to achieve peace has not quite impressed their Arab neighbouring leaders as it once did.

Iran and Turkey, non-Arab and each weighing their opportunities to exert power and influence over the Arab states have presented themselves as major irritants to the equilibrium of the Middle East. Those ambitions have resurrected the latent but always-simmering sectarian Muslim antipathies into violent conflict, destroying first Iraq and then Syria. Iran's interference in Syrian, Iraqi, Yemeni affairs and its Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia, in the greater goal of Shiite hegemony and Iranian power structure has served to divide the Middle East.

The Arab states of influence, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, now view Israel as a permanent influence and part of the Middle East. Its powerful military's reputation and its intelligence services are seen as a counter to the ambitions of the Islamic Republic of Iran to command the entire region as satrapies to Iranian command. Iran not only threatens its Sunni Arab neighbours as well as promising to destroy Israel, it funds and helps to arm Hamas. When Hamas threatens Israel's stability, it is Iran that celebrates.

When Israel's critics in the West censure it for defending its sovereignty and the life and security of its people they indicate the low standards they hold both the Palestinians to, and themselves as well. Since in doing so they defend terrorist groups prepared to send marauding and inflamed people pushed to the brink of desperation through corruption and maladministration of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

Ismail Haniya, the head of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, gestures to demonstrators at a protest along the border with the Gaza Strip on May 18, 2018 (AFP Photo/MAHMUD HAMS)

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Rapid Emergency Response to DRC Ebola Outbreak

"This is a major development in the outbreak."
"We have urban Ebola, which is a very different animal from rural Ebola."
"If the number increases in Bikoro it's bad but it's not a disaster. But if these three cases in Mbandaka become ten, or twelve, then we have an urban epidemic."
"We're certainly not trying to cause any panic in the national or international community. [But] urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do."
Peter Salama, senior World Health Organization official

"Boats move up and down the river, carrying people and goods."
"One of the risks is that someone with the virus could easily access one of the boats and start moving up and down."
Jose Barahona, Oxfam DRC country director

"The arrival of Ebola in an urban area is very concerning and WHO and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area."
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa
DRC Red cross buries victim of ebola to prevent spread of contagious viral disease
A victim of the ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been buried by the Red Cross. The society says this was to prevent further spread of the contagious viral disease. Dr. Pierre Formenty, is team leader for viral haemorrhagic fevers at the World Health Organization.

In 2014-2016, the world's eyes were riveted on the largest recorded Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed 11,300 people, causing widespread fear and panic before it was stalled. Difficult to control, it spread to the capitals of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. And the race was on to find a formula that could be relied upon to stop this deadly virus before it infected and killed many more. In a Canadian research laboratory in Manitoba one such vaccine was produced by ZMapp scientists,and the incidence of infection began to be reduced.

Before it came to a halt, however, it took the lives of men, women and children, and those of health workers as well. Medical teams rushed to the affected areas in a desperate effort to check the advance of the often-deadly virus. A few cases showed up in Europe when travellers brought the virus back with them, often people in the medical community whose advanced treatment largely proved successful. A huge sigh of relief was exhaled once the WHO was able to declare the epidemic at a halt.

Now, once again, teams from the World Health Organization and major agencies are being swiftly deployed to Democratic Republic of Congo to face this new outbreak to which world governments and agencies have pledged funding. Teams from Medicines sans Frontieres set up an isolation zone in the area, preparing to build two Ebola treatment centres in Mbandaka and Bikoro.

"With Ebola, when people die, they are very contagious. So it’s a place where we have a lot of infections. It is therefore important to have safe burials because it reduces the risk of human-to-human transmission, but it is also important to have dignified burials", explained Dr. Pierre Formerlty,  team leader for viral haemorrhagic fevers at the World Health Organization.

Ebola kills half of those who are infected. Recovery is long and people are extremely ill throughout the touch-and-go process, then face suspicion from a fearful population unconvinced survivors are no longer infectious, leading to the social isolation of survivors. While Ebola usually surfaces in the countryside, it is now speculated that the disease was carried from the countryside down the Congo river to the city by someone infected, but unaware.

The city of Mbandaka, with its 1.2-million population is connected through the Congo river with the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa, and Brazzaville, the capital of Congo-Brazzaville, as well, so the potential of Ebola spreading more widely is feared. Moreover, in a crowded city environment the virus can spread far more rapidly in person-to-person contact than it can in less-crowded surroundings in the countryside.

Hundreds of people are suspected to have been in contact with infected people, now being monitored. The WHO is deploying thirty experts to move throughout the city conducting surveillance. The city of Mbandaka though densely populated has poor sanitation, and inadequate health care services. Of the 44 people identified as having been infected, 23 have died. It was only ten days ago that an outbreak was reported in the remote rural area of Bikoro, in the DRC's northwest.

DRC receives first batches of vaccine during outbreak. Africa News

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Reason Surrenders to the Passion of Victimhood

"In the last rounds of confrontations, if 62 people were martyred, fifty of the martyrs were Hamas and 12 from the people."
"How can Hamas reap the fruits if it pays such an expensive price?"
"I am giving you an official figure. Fifty of the martyrs in the recent battle were from Hamas."
Hamas official Salah Bardawil, Gaza

"Senior Hamas official sets the record straight on who was killed in last Hamas-orchestrated riots: ‘50 of the 62 martyrs were Hamas. Take his word for it. This was no peaceful protest."
"[The large death toll at Monday’s Gaza protests] has done us a tremendous disservice. Hamas wanted the casualties."
“Hamas wanted people to die. Hamas wanted the pictures of the wounded and the overflowing hospitals ... and they had no problems sending the human shields forward. That is the sad reality of what we have been facing."
"We haven’t been able to get that message out of how it is from our side, what we are defending – and the ‘winning picture’ overwhelmingly, by a knockout, unfortunately, have been the graphics from the Palestinian side."
"The amount of casualties has done us a tremendous disservice, unfortunately, and it has been very difficult to tell our story."
Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, spokesman, IDF 

Palestinian demonstrators burn tires near the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, on May 14, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
Palestinian demonstrators burn tires near the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, on May 14, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

"We are appalled that Dr. Tarek Loubani, a Canadian citizen, is among the wounded -- along with so many unarmed people, including civilians, members of the media, first responders, and children."
"Reported use of excessive force and live ammunition is inexcusable. It is imperative we establish the facts of what is happening in Gaza."
"Canada calls for an immediate independent investigation to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground -- including any incitement, violence, and the excessive use of force."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

"In condemning the Israeli forces, Justin Trudeau ignores the role that the terrorist organization Hamas has played in inciting these clashes."
"In responding to these events with nothing but criticism of Israel, Justin Trudeau has failed Canadians on the international stage once again."
Andrew Scheer, leader, opposition Conservative Party
Lt.-Col. Conricus is right; Hamas's success in persuading Gazan civilians to flood to the border with Israel, to 'return' and claim their purported rights, while planning, should the hordes of peaceful protesters somehow succeed in breaching the border, to have Hamas operatives infiltrate Israel and in the short distance from the border to Jewish communities take advantage of the opportunity to wreak mayhem and slaughter, indulging in their favourite threats made reality; slaughtering Jews is an appalling reality.

But as he points out, the greater plan we to sufficiently rattle and provoke the IDF standing guard at the border points with strict orders to react as any given situation predicated; warning at first, shots overhead later, advance to shoot intruders' extremities to stop their progress, and for those ignoring all warning, seen to be succeeding in their mission to breach the border, shoot to kill. The alternative? A  throng of thousands flooding into Israel, among them terrorist Hamas, armed and prepared to kill -- to halt their progress the military would shoot to stop the entire ingress, extinguishing the threat.

Israel can point out that Hamas exists for the sole purpose of the Jewish state's destruction; so its charter points out, and so the terrorist group devotes itself, expending vast sums of international charity meant for Gazan civilians, instead using the funds to build sophisticated underground tunnels, the tunnels foiled finally by the underground fence Israel is building. Countless rockets shot off toward border communities in Israel invited a 2014 counter attack.

Hamas long ago decided its most useful counterattack against IDF reprisals is the orchestration of Palestinian deaths to rivet the world's attention on the martyrdom of civilians caught in a crossfire Hamas had carefully planned. "It was clear to Israel and now it is clear to the whole world that there was no popular protest. This was an organized mob of terrorists organized by Hamas", noted Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.

Israel "won't let those who call for our destruction to breach our borders and to threaten our communities", stated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. To which Bardawil responded, Israel was "legitimizing the killing of Palestinians just because they are Palestinians or just because they are Hamas, even if they were unarmed and defending their dignity and rights". In Hamas entitled parlance it is dignified to kill Jews, and this is their right. The killing of Hamas terrorists equates with removing a direct and virulently violent threat of death for Israeli civilians.

And although the world knows Hamas is a dedicated terrorist group exalting martyrdom and dedicating itself to destroying Israel, it chooses to view Israel's international right as a sovereign nation protecting its population from those real threats, as disproportional in its determination to prevent any breach of the border. While no other country, critical of Israel's response in deterring a Palestinian influx into Israel auguring ill for its citizens, will ever face such threats, they are at no loss for words condemning Israel.

The despicable condemnation emanating from Canada's preening, autocratic Justin Trudeau eager to show the world that the Canada under other administrations that supported Israel, has turned its back on the Jewish state under his aegis. Knowing that the deaths caused by Hamas inciting Palestinians -- burning Israeli farmfields, lobbing Molotov cocktails at IDF troops, hurling rocks at the military, trundling burning tires into the border fence, hoisting meat cleavers and threatening to kill Jews -- are mostly those of Hamas terrorists, Trudeau nonetheless contemptibly holds Israel to account.

Displaying the shallowness of his cerebral functioning, his lapsed moral compass and his dedication to 'progressive' governance as one who personally embraces the totalitarian nature of social engineering along with the acceptance of nationalist grievances of those considering themselves to be victims seeking to overturn democratic institutions to favour their versions of entitlement. It certainly doesn't stint Trudeau's pleasure in stating opinions geared to please a large voting bloc, happily shedding the prospect of pleasing a much smaller, dispensable one.  
 

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