ISIS MAKING CHEMICAL WEAPONS
U.S. officials believe that ISIS has a specific cell dedicated to making chemical weapons, and theyâ€™ve identified at least four occasions when the terrorist group used them, the BBC reports. â€œThey're using mustard. We know they are,â€ an unnamed official said. Yesterday, the BBC reported about new evidence showing that all parties in the Syrian war were potentially using chemical agents, though the Syrian government has repeatedly rejected accusations.
â€œSomething snapped in me.â€ Petra László, the Hungarian camerawoman who was fired earlier this week for tripping up refugees, including two children, as they tried to escape the police, explained her actions in a letter to newspaper Magyar Nemzet. â€œThe camera was shooting, hundreds of migrants broke through the police cordon, one of them rushed to me and I was scared,â€ she wrote. â€œI just thought that I was being attacked and I had to protect myself. I'm not a heartless, racist, children-kicking camerawoman. I do not deserve the political witch hunts against me, nor the smears, nor the many death threats. I'm just a woman, since then, an unemployed mother of small children, who made a bad decision. I am truly sorry.â€
- Foreign ministers from Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic are meeting in Prague to discuss the refugee crisis. Germany and Luxembourg will try to convince their eastern Europe counterparts to accept the European Commissionâ€™s plan for binding quotas, Deutsche Welle explains.
IRAN DEAL SURVIVES SENATE
U.S. senators rejected a Republican attempt yesterday to derail the July deal reached between Iran and six world powers on Tehranâ€™s nuclear program, giving President Barack Obama an significant victory. The New York Times characterized the failed GOP effort as a â€œstinging political defeatâ€ for the pro-Israeli American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which spent $30 million to lobby against the Iran deal.
ON THIS DAY
Today is the 14th anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center that killed 2,996 people. Todayâ€™s shot of history.
PALESTINIAN FLAG TO FLY AT UN
An overwhelming majority of countries approved a proposal last night to raise the Palestinian flag at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The Palestinian-drafted resolution, which 119 of 193 countries supported, infuriated Israel. â€œSome EU countries would consider it a matter of principle to declare that the world is, indeed, flat â€" if this is how the Palestinians see it,â€ The Jerusalem Post quoted Israelâ€™s UN ambassador Ron Prosor as saying, in comments aimed at European countries, including France, which supported the resolution. Palestine has a â€œnon-member observer stateâ€ status at the UN, and Palestinian representative Riyad Monsour believes this gesture bring them closer to full recognition. â€œThis flag resolution is like the small light of a candle to keep hope alive for the Palestinian people,â€ he told Al Jazeera. The United States joined Israel and six other nations in voting against the resolution.
Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/DPA/ZUMA
On Thursday, workers removed the head of a statue of the late Soviet leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin which was buried in a forest in the east of Berlin, to be displayed at an exhibition in the German capital.
DEADLY CLASHES IN TURKEY
At least 30 people have died in the Turkish city of Cizre since the government imposed a curfew there a week ago as part of its crackdown on Kurdish militants of the PKK, Hürriyet reports. The Interior Minister characterizes the dead as terrorists, but the pro-Kurdish party HDP claims instead that 20 of the victims are civilians. According to the BBC, critics in Turkey are accusing the government of â€œpunishingâ€ Cizre, a city of 100,000 located near the Syrian border, for its massive support of the HDP in the last elections, even as a new general election looms.
The number of centenarians in Japan has passed the 60,000 mark for the first time in history and is expected to reach 61,568 next week when the country celebrates â€œSeniors' Day.â€ An estimated 87% of them are women. With 30,379 people turning 100 this year, the traditional gifts â€" a silver sake dish worth 7,000 yen ($60) â€" are becoming costly and the government is reportedly considering a cheaper alternative for next year.
YEMEN PEACE TALKS TO RESUME
Peace talks between warring parties in Yemen will resume next week, Reuters reports. The war-torn country is on the brink of famine, with 20 million people â€" 80% of the population â€" going hungry. According to the Yemen Post, 26 Saudi missiles were fired this morning on the capital of Sanaa, one day after strikes there killed 33 civilians, including children, and destroyed dozens of homes. The conflict is intensifying, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt sending more troops on the ground, and The Economist warns that Yemen is descending into â€œa prolonged and uncontrollable war.â€
Turkish political leaders and ordinary citizens are blind as ever to why Kurds continue to fight for freedom. It recalls another open chapter in the nationâ€™s troubled history, Umit Kivanc writes in an op-ed for Radikal. â€œTurkeyâ€™s Sunni majority canâ€™t, for example, discuss Armenian genocide,â€ he writes. â€œBecause itâ€™s not possible to talk about the period when the genocide was planned and practiced. They always jump to what happened after because that is where Armenian acts of revenge can be found. They rationalize the mass organized slaughter and deportation of people from their homeland by saying, â€œbut, but â€¦â€ and talking about â€œArmenian gangsâ€ and their actions. Somehow, though, there is never consideration for how and why these gangs were formed in the first place. I start with Armenian genocide because I donâ€™t think the handling of the Kurdish issue is isolated from that. In fact, I donâ€™t think any issue in Turkey is isolated from that. This is our national style.â€
Read the full article, From Armenian Genocide To Kurdish Rebels, Turkey Is A Nation In Denial.
VENEZUELAâ€™S OPPOSITION LEADER JAILED
Leopoldo Lopez, one of the leaders of Venezuelaâ€™s opposition, has been sentenced to 13 years and 9 months in prison after being found guilty of inducing violence in 2014â€™s deadly protests, El Universal reports. Lopezâ€™s lawyer told reporters that the decision would be appealed, saying the sentenced â€œlacked fairnessâ€ and pointing to trial irregularities. Human Rights Watch also criticized the ruling and said Lopez, who has been held in a military jail since his arrest in february 2014, had been the victim of a â€œcomplete travesty of justice.â€
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
Singaporeans have begun voting in an election that the Peopleâ€™s Action Party is expected to win, as it has every time since Singaporeâ€™s independence in 1965. But for the first time, all of the ruling partyâ€™s 89 seats are contested, The Straits Times reports.
GO GET IT
When she faces Italian player Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinal later today, Serena Williams will likely have the full support of her most devoted fan, Georges the dog. Unless itâ€™s just all about the yellow ball.
The United Nations, UNICEF, Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations seems to be trying to reach the Polish-Belarusian border, where Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is creating a refugee crisis on purpose.
WARSAW — There is no doubt that the refugees crossing the Belarusian border with Poland — and by extension reaching the European Union — were shepherded through by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. There is more than enough evidence that this is an organized action of the dictator using a network of intermediaries stretching from Africa and the Middle East. But that is not all.
It can be seen in films made available to the media by... Belarusian border guards and Lukashenko's official information agencies.
Tactics of a strongman
Refugees are not led to the border by "pretend soldiers" in uniforms from a military collectibles store. These are regular formations commanded by state authorities. Their actions violate all rules of peaceful coexistence and humanitarianism to which Belarus has committed itself as a state.
Belarus is dismissed by the "rest of the world" as a hopeless case of a bizarre (although, in the last year, increasingly brutal) dictatorship. But it still formally belongs to a whole range of organizations whose principles it violates every day on the border with Poland.
Indeed, Belarus is a part of the United Nations (it is even listed as a founding state in its declaration), it belongs to the UNICEF, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and even to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Polish soldiers set up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus
Lukashenko would never challenge the Red Cross
Each of these entities has specialized bureaus whose task is to intervene wherever conventions and human rights are violated. Each of these organizations should have sent their observers and representatives to the conflict area long ago — and without asking Belarus for permission. They should be operating on both sides of the border, as their presence would certainly make it more difficult to break the law.
An incomprehensible absence
Neither the leader of Poland's ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczyński nor even Lukashenko would dare to keep the UN, UNICEF, OSCE or the Red Cross out of their countries.
In recent weeks, the services of one UN state (Belarus) have been regularly violating the border of another UN state (Poland). In the nearby forests, children are being pushed around and people are dying. Despite all of this, none of the international organizations seems to be trying to reach the border nor taking any kind of action required by their responsibilities.
Their absence in such a critical time and place is completely incomprehensible, and their lack of action raises questions about the use of international treaties and organizations created to protect them.
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